Little bluestem grasses have yellow-tan stems reaching high as they grow in the summer sun. But, don't be fooled in the fall; their colors change to reddish-tan as tree leaves change in autumn. Whatever the season, this 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 foot-tall grass grows in spikelets from a large cluster on the ground. It has narrow plant leaves which measure about 10 inches long and 1/5 inch wide. Little bluestem spikes have clusters of scaly flowers or seeds at the end, like small fireworks exploding in separate groups. It is named for the bluish color you'll see at the base of the grass stems in spring.
Little bluestem flowers between August and October in prairies, old fields and open woods. It survives the harsh winter and keeps its striking reddish-tan color. Look for bluestem in the winter with fuzzy white seeds which small birds love to feed on. These tall grasses also provide safe places for wildlife such as the 13-lined ground squirrel to hide in as it stands on hind feet to survey the area. Watch for little bluestem's "cousin," the big bluestem, also called a "turkeyfoot."