Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Little bluestem warming the landscape

with 14 comments

Little Bluestem Turned Warm Colors 4796

If little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, played a supporting role behind some nightshade fruits in December of 2012, here’s a mature stand of the grass in its own right and in this new year. I found it two days ago in the Bull Creek watershed, not far from the little aster that appeared in the last post.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 9, 2013 at 6:19 AM

14 Responses

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  1. With the help of our venerable Aggies, I just learned it’s frost which gives little bluestem its pretty, coppery color. The magenta made me wonder if it’s the pretty grass that’s planted along so many highways in the state, but I don’t think so. From what I can tell, this tends to clump and not spread out so nicely. More exploration’s required!


    January 9, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    • In a previous version of my text I had “clump” where “stand” now stands. I made the change to emphasize the height of these seed stalks, which are the grass’s most prominent feature in winter. Of course it’s also true that the stalks occur in clumps. I’m not aware of any highway department in Texas planting this species of grass, but you’re welcome to explore.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2013 at 9:16 AM

  2. Beautiful grass wine-colored, gold and green, so attractive!


    January 9, 2013 at 8:10 AM

  3. Little bluestem is one of my favorite natives grasses. I am so glad that it has managed to hang on in various places despite the destruction of 99% of native prairie. This photo really does justice to little blue.


    January 9, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    • It’s one of my favorite native grasses, too, and fortunately there’s plenty of it around Austin. Unfortunately, as you noted, almost all the original prairie has been destroyed through agriculture, ranching, and construction. Native plant people sometimes wish they could get into a time machine and ride back a few centuries to see what the great prairies in the center of North America looked like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

  4. You demonstrate beautifully here that there is no such thing as “just grass.”

    Susan Scheid

    January 9, 2013 at 3:43 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. And if you don’t mind, I’ll put in a plug for our native grasses, which are so much more appealing to me than manicured lawns.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      • Not only don’t I mind, but I heartily endorse that qualification and should have used it myself!

        Susan Scheid

        January 9, 2013 at 3:55 PM

  5. Steven, I am a real fan of Little Bluestem and you’ve done it justice! As to native prairies, I know you are familiar with the restoration project at the Mueller development here in Austin. I have been curious that we have very little Little Blue here, even during the last two years when it was so abundant in surrounding countryside. It certainly was in the seed mixes planted at Mueller.

    Bobby Gierisch

    January 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    • Hi, Bobby. I’m sorry to hear that the little bluestem that was planted as part of the Mueller prairie restoration hasn’t thrived, but I’m reassured to hear that you still have at least some there. With spring coming soon, and with last year’s profusion of non-natives like wild mustard, it may take some heavy weeding in the months ahead to help the natives along.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 9, 2013 at 5:44 PM

  6. Hi,
    I love all the different colours through the stems, very nice.


    January 9, 2013 at 6:15 PM

  7. […] and the same mostly overcast morning of January 7, that brought you yesterday’s photograph of little bluestem and the day before’s of a lingering aster. After three images in a row with subdued tonality, […]

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