Big Bluestem with blue sky
Big Bluestem Grass

Imagine grass reaching as high as 12 feet. That could be big bluestem growing in the summer sun. Some folks have said that these tall grasses brushed their knees "as they rode in their saddles" across the prairie. Sometimes called "turkeyfoot," or "beardgrass," this tall grass has three long finger-type seed heads that can look like a turkey's foot. It is considered one of Wisconsin's most important native prairie grasses. It can be found growing on dry bluffs such as in southern and western Wisconsin, but will also grow in the central sands area of our state.

What you see above the ground makes up only 1/3 of the grass. The rest is an incredibly deep root system underground. These roots help bluestem grow back quickly after a prairie fire.