State Grass: Little Bluestem
The state grass of Kansas is Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). It was named by the Kansas State Legislature as the State Grass of Kansas on July 1, 2010.
Little Bluestem illustration donated by Myrna Campbell for the exclusive use of KNPS.
Why a State Grass?
The symbols that represent Kansas, such as the State Flower, the Annual Sunflower, and the State Tree, the Cottonwood, teach our children about the place where they live. Kansas is a grassland ecosystem. As a symbol of the prairies of Kansas, a State Grass focuses the attention of Kansans of all ages on the prairie ecosystem. The heritage of the prairies is strong in Kansas, yet many children and adults who live in cities and towns may not be aware of the many ways the grasslands contribute to our quality of life.
Why Little Bluestem?
Several native grasses are considered dominant in pastures and prairies across the state, but the one species that is found in every county of Kansas is Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). Little Bluestem is a native perennial with a dense root system reaching five to eight feet into the soil. It is drought resistant and grows from two to five feet tall in deep, shallow or rocky soils. It is important for wildlife habitat. It was once the most abundant grass in the Great Plains and is still of major importance in the tall, mixed and shortgrass prairies where it can produce one to two tons of biomass per acre. This grass is nutritious and palatable for cattle and bison, especially after a spring burn, when the new growth is highly attractive to grazers.
Teach About Little Bluestem
Use the following materials to help teach your students about little bluestem.
- Meet Little Bluestem, a story written by Little Bluestem
- Little Blue's Story, a story of a grass seeking to become the state grass
- Little Blue's Conclusion, the conclusion to Little Blue's Story
- Facts, a little bluestem fact sheet
- Visit Little Bluestem, where you can find little bluestem
- Scavenger Hunt, a research scavenger hunt
- Crossword Puzzle, a companion to Little Blue's Story
- Coloring Sheets, drawings of Little Bluestem
- Bookmarks, bookmarks of characters from "Little Blue's Story"
- Poster, poster of characters from "Little Blue's Story"
- Gallery, images of Little Bluestem
- Resources, more information on Little Bluestem
Read the 2010 House Bill No. 2649 to name Little Bluestem the state grass of Kansas
Little Bluestem Press Release (January 18, 2013)