The Ohio State University at Marion


Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardi

August - October 

The most prevalent and widely distributed of all the prairie grasses, Big Bluestem was largely responsible for the formation of the famous prairie sod. In late August, it reaches five-to-eight feet tall and produces its distinctive three-parted seed heads, which resemble a turkey foot. The lush green of the leaves and stems change with the first frost to a reddish-bronze color.

Cord Grass

Spartina pectinata

July - September 

Cord Grass loves wet soil, so look for it in low lying areas on the prairie. Its leaf blades are quite sharp which can cause tiny cuts similar to a paper cut. This plant spreads by rhizomes, an underground stem which creates a thick sod. The flower stalks reach six-to-nine feet tall in August, each with hundreds of tiny purple blooms.

Indian Grass

Sorgasghastrum nutans

August - September 

The silky-soft, golden seed heads of Indian Grass impart a special beauty and drama to the prairie in autumn. Reaching five-to-seven feet tall, it makes a powerful late season statement in the landscape.

Little Bluestem

Schizachrium scoparium

August - October 

The blue-green foliage of Little Bluestem provides a great backdrop for the prairie flowers in summer, turning a striking crimson in fall. The fluffy silver seed heads add dazzle to the autumn landscape. A patch of Little Bluestem waving in the wind resemble waves of the ocean on a bright and breezy fall day.

Rough Dropseed

Sporobolus asper

August - September 

Rough Dropseed produces a fountain of fine-textured, emerald green leaves, adding a touch of elegance to any planting. The seed head has a faint but unmistakable fragrance, often described as resembling a combination of fresh popcorn and cilantro.

Sweet Grass

Hiercloe odorata

May - June 

The glossy leaves have a pleasant vanilla fragrance. This grass grows one-to-two feet tall. Sweet Grass is considered a sacred plant by Native Americans and has many medicinal and ritualistic values.

Switch Grass

Panicum virgatum

August - October 

This ever-popular prairie grass is known for its lush foliage and seed heads that turn golden brown in fall. It creates dense cover that provides great wildlife habitat. Its stiff stems stand up over winter better than all the other grasses.