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What is Andropogon?

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  • Written By: L. Jablonsky
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2019
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Andropogon is the genus of more than 100 species of grasses native to the United States. Andropogon grasses, also known as broomsedge and bluestem, belong to the Poaceae family in the plant kingdom. These tall grasses are perennials, as they can live for more than two years.

A. virginicus, also known as broomsedge or broomsedge bluestem, is native throughout the eastern section of the United States and can be found in California. It has also been introduced to Australia and New Zealand. The warm season grass is resilient; it can grow abundantly in floodplains and other infertile areas such as abandoned fields and pastures. The grass is green in the initial stages of growth, but it eventually changes into a reddish-brown color upon maturity. The grass grows in clumps ranging anywhere from 2 to 3 feet (60.96 to 91.44 cm) high.

Broomsedge is not ideal for feeding livestock or use in any decorational manner, but clumps of the dead grasses are a good fuel for fires. Experts observed that the intensity of fires and the number of acres burnt increased in areas where A. virginicus was plentiful. The grass is also listed as "noxious" in the state of Hawaii since it grows out of sync with the state's climactic pattern.

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Andropogon gerardii, another specie of Andropogon grass, is known by a number of different names, including big bluestem, beard grass, and turkey foot. The nickname "turkey foot" is derived from shape and arrangement of its three-pronged flowers, which resemble a foot with three claws. The bluestem grass is native to the temperate regions of North America, found in areas of the United States, Mexico, and parts of Canada.

Like broomsedge, Andropogon gerardii grows in clumps in light, heavy, and sandy soils of prairies and wooded areas. In the initial stages of growth, the big bluestem grass and leaves are a blue-green color. Upon maturity, the grass and its flowers darken into a purple-reddish hue.

This particular species is categorized as suitable for use as a fodder product and a palatable graze for animals. The big bluestem grass grows to a formidable height, at times reaching 10 feet (3.04 m). Andropogon geradii, due to its vibrant colors, can be a suitable border for a screen or garden.

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