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What Plant Is Important in November?Sunflowers

Silver Bluestem (Bothriochloa saccharoides)

Silver bluestem is a perennial, warm season, native grass that is found throughout the rangelands of the U.S.

Silver bluestem prefers loamy to clayey soils underlain with limestone. It grows in many soils but is not found on moist sites.

  • Can reach 3-feet in height in good growing
  • Easily distinguished by the “zigzag” growth
    pattern on the main stem of the plant
  • Makes a white, fluffy seed head in late summer and early fall
  • Often confused with Pinhole, Cane and Silky bluestem due to the similarities of their seed heads

Silver Bluestem is looked upon as the stepchild of the bluestems. It is not as good as its cousins Little bluestem and Big bluestem.

Livestock will use the forage of Silver bluestem when it is in the very early stages of growth. When the plant initiates seed production, the palatability is very poor and livestock will avoid it.
Silver bluestem is often found growing in moderate-to-good ranges and contributes to the production of the ecological site. It is often called an increaser plant on heavily grazed sites.

Editor’s note: Jeff Goodwin, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Kent Ferguson, recently retired from NRCS, are providing us with plant identification photo stories to help ranchers identify those forbs, forages and brush species growing in the pastures.

"What Plant is Important in November" is from the November 2014 issue of The Cattleman magazine.