Little Bluestem LOVE time.

wantonamara Z8 CenTex

It is time to milk the seeds before they blow away in the wind . BUT, They are so beautiful that I hate to disrupt them. My front field is mostly KR Bluestem and I need to interject Native Bluestem, here and there. My cows ate them all up, back in the day that I had two cows. Sheesh, they ate a lot QUICKLY. Turned areas into white limestone marl in just a couple of years. Then the drought and the wind came and blue in all the KR bluestem. The south wind was horrendous that year. The Little Bluestem will hold its own once re established.

I did get a paper bag and filled it last Wednesday with seed. So I want too dig up small patches out in the field and seed in the bluestem.

I just love the disorderly textures in the fields at this time of year. The first shot was burnt ash grey NOTHING in August.The cool wet august changed things around here.



Here is the sunset view of Da View where it is mostly KR Bluestem. There is blue game in patches in the background off to the right , But I need more.

Walking out into the field One can see the color difference between the Blue gamma and the KR (white grass).

I have also been told that seeding out Silver Bluestem (a mother non native will compete better with the KR than the native. It is treated like an native at the LBJ WFC. They recommend it like they recommend natives. I was talking to a botanist and they are using it too break up the KR monoculture. Fire is not a retardant for it as originally thought. Native bluestem will compete well with Silver Bluestem. It is one of those step processes, first one and then the next.

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echolane(SFBayMidPen)

Wow, your grasslands are so beautiful! I had to look up KR Bluestem, which turned up some very interesting reading. First surprise is that it's not in the same genus as Bluestem, which makes me wonder why it's called a Bluestem, and perhaps it's from seed originally collected in Asia, no it's not a native. Next surprise is that it's considered a noxious weed, eradicating native wildflowers, grasses, etc. and presumably that is why you are trying to seed in native Bluestem in hopes it will out compete KR Bluestem?

Here's one article I read (and perhaps you did too) that mentions the importance of adding mycorrhiza along with seed because KR Bluestem changes soil bacteria to favor itself and not Bluestem.

http://npsot.org/symposium2012/Davidson.pdf

What is the botanical name of your Bluestem? Does it matter which Bluestem you are using to try to out compete the KR Bluestem?


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I know KR Bluestem is not a native and not a bluestem. I was talking about Silver bluestem another non native and non bluestem that people seem to forgive its non native stance because it can duke it out with the KR and then be friendly to the native. Maybe they are successional and successful in changing the nature of the soil. I use the Bluestem that is native to my land.

Silver Bluestem = Bothriochloa laguroides

Native Bluestem = Schizachyrium scoparium

My front field seems to be having some silver Bluestem breaking into the mix BUT it also has 1 mound of Johnston grass I need to poison and some weeping Love grass to round out the non natives. So the front field is definitely not a more culture.

I have found skipper butterflies all through the KR. I take all info about KR with a grain of salt because. it depends who is talking and what year they said it in. I mean doctoral professors of agriculture here in Texas disagree heartily about this. 15 years ago , I was told to burn it to control it by one very knowledgable authority while a Doctor from A & M said it was a good grass for feeding the acquire and was a good successional grass for disturbed areas. A Couple of years later I was told to do a summer burn to control it. It is now deemed not effective. It is a dig it out before it seeds, Not to effective on a acreage.

So far, I have ignored it out of fear of fire and the monoculture aspect has been breaking down, so maybe their is good truth to the successional idea of it and the mono culture state is just a phase. Doing nothing is great by me. 2 years ago I had 10 clumps of Bluestem in the field and this year there are about thirty that I can count that poke their heads above the wave of white KR. I am sure there are many more starting out. I have noticed that the KR is late to break dormancy here compared to other grasses. So things can get a foot hold during a wet spring. AND sometimes on a wicked summer, the KR seems anemic compared to other native grasses.

Last , I heard , the Texas association of Land conservationist were in a huge argument about this grass, weather it was good or bad and what to do about it. Holistic Land Management has very different ideas about use of non natives in restoration of rangeland then some of the more Native conservancy guys who are about the pre contact state of things. I lean more to the pragmatist side of things. This rancher has interesting things to say about desert restoration. I harp on him a lot. Happy digging. There is a lot here.

Circle Ranch blog

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texasranger2

Really nice! and perfect timing. We just got back from a trip up north to Pawnee and I spent the whole trip as a passenger looking out the car window at grasses, trying to ID at 70mph (I know you can relate) and wishing we could stop the car so I could take a closer look and maybe gather some seeds. I saw lots of Indian Grass, a few stands of Bushy Bluestem, a reassuring amount of Little Bluestem and several grasses with nice texture and low height I wish I could have looked at closer. I don't think I saw Big Bluestem but it was hard to tell, a couple times I thought maybe I did but we were going too fast to be sure. Little Blue & Indian Grass are unmistakeable even at 70mph

I really like the wide sweeps of white grass out on the prairie, especially on cloudy days, so I suppose if you have to have a takeover of KR Bluestem on your property, at least you get that sweep of white from it. It is quite striking in the photos you took.

I'm confused. I thought Silver Bluestem was a native??? No? I googled it and read on the Kansas Wildflower & Grasses site the Kiowa natives used it as toothpicks. It one I've stumbled across while looking up various kinds of Andropogon because Bothriochloa seems to come up when I do searches and type in the common names.

http://www.kswildflower.org/grass_details.php?grassID=10

Native American Seed says the native species Bothriocholoa barbinodis (Cane Bluestem) is often found growing with KR and that planting it is key to management because they thrive in the same conditions, maybe thats why Silver BS is used to duke it out. Worst of all, they also say mowing KR makes it more aggressive, too bad because mowing too often is a good way to kill Little BS or Sideoats Grama. KR sounds like one very tenacious grass.

All along the center median where the guard rails are of I35 there was some kind of finely bladed, very short, extremely white grass (I wanted some whatever it was) and among it was something non grass--a low growing 'something' that was very red --stems and all---and it looked fantastic with the grass. I have no idea and thats the only place I saw the red stuff, none along the sides of the road. Imagine trying to collect seeds.....

I'll try to collect some seeds of those unusually tall wild types of Bluestem (Okies) for you to add to the other bags of seeds I'm sending. It seems to come up thicker than other kinds I have here, grow faster and is very tolerant of bad soil. Its a lot tougher and roots faster and deeper than the other named kinds I have purchased from SRG. There's some coming up in the cracks of the sidewalks and they are very tenacious, much harder to dig up than those shorter named types I'm growing due to the stronger & faster growing roots. I'm still curious how the Los Lunas performs in your conditions. Its as tough & fast growing as this other type and I had lots of robust seedlings this year from the few plants I got from HGC.

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texasranger2

PS, I also saw several stands of Switchgrass, which is something I almost never see here around OKC along the roadsides going in any direction. Talk about a standout! Simply gorgeous right now, you couldn't miss it even if you were driving 90mph.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

NOW TxR, don't kill your self now . LOL. My husband will not stop for me either. I love my trips all by myself for that very reason.

I need to get some of that B. barbinodis for my land. I should go out with another paper bag and pile it in. Or I need to just shell out some money to Native American seed and get a couple of pounds of it. Thanks TxR for reminding me of it.

I know I am supposed to dislike KR and try to get rid of it but through the winter it holds on to those tall white seedless stems that stick around and the whole grass turns white, then a silver grey and it does amazing things with a cool winter sunset. Here are some photos I took years ago as the light was failing. It is hard to hate something that gives you such nice eye candy. These pictures were taken in February. The plays with light is really amazing.

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echolane(SFBayMidPen)

Interesting problem, enjoyed reading about it. Is digging the only way to eradicate it? That's sounds impossibly difficult. I think I'd be tempted to use Roundup in a checkerboard pattern (whether large scale or experimental scale) and seed the kill areas with your desired grass seed and hope the succession theory works. Assuming Roundup kills it....

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texasranger2

Woooooo--- psychedelic. I'd sit and stare at that. But ya know, thats the thing, grasses do stuff like that in different lights and thats a big part of the appeal. I could definitely live with it, native or not and frankly, I don't see you eradicating that or wonder if it would be wise?

I love seeing mine blow right now (when my hair is tied back and I can see that is, the wind is ferocious these days), its hypnotic and relaxing to watch even on the small scale I have going on here.

I'll send you some Andropogon ternarius seed too, the plants are covered and I plan to sow to have more of them. I collected these seeds at the farm from plants growing in the worst of conditions (concrete hard clay on a road) fall before last and now the few plants are mature, I'm kicking myself for not growing more. Super-duper drought hardy too. Its a straight, stiff vertical grass that really glows when covered in masses of fluffy seeds. I do mean masses. It blooms later than Little blue and blends well with it, same height but distinctly different. A plant I have growing on the low end that gets more water is taller with more seeds -- its a real beauty. I saw lots of it today but then maybe it was Andropogon saccharoides, hard to tell from a distance in a moving car. I ought to order seeds of that one too from PoSW.

I think I found a bag of Andropogon virginicus in my one of seed stash boxes that I collected that same fall at the farm but never planted. They look right compared to what I googled which is good because I keep eyeing the roadside and not seeing any sources here locally. I'm crazy about the orange winter color not to mention.........How's this for a vertical statement:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/largeImage?imageID=anvi2_007_avp.tif

I also read it will tolerate drought & shade and stay upright, so thats another reason I totally "need" it. I bet its more of an east Texas grass, probably the same for Oklahoma but I want to try it anyhow.

ORANGE!

http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=5391878

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I do dig it up and plant stuff . The seed from TxR sent me was dug into the ground by digging up clumps of it and making a spot where several unwanted grass was. If I do it enough , then I get more liatris, gaillardia monarda citriodora and Monarda punctata... That is what I added this year.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

OK, Now I am thinking that I am supposed to be planting THIS Silver Bluestem, Not the non native . Sheesh. I think I have been caught in the multiple plant with the same common name shtick. The lady said "Silver Bluestem" at the seminar and I got the NON native one first when I googled diligently at home.. Sheesh. I mouch my education and sometimes it bites me in my @ss. TX , Thank you, Thank you for your information.

The Andropogon tenarius seems to be native to the east of here , East of Austin in Backland prairie. It could work in the adobe soils of the front field. I have some seed that you sent , but I think They might have been picked early. They look a little green in their clumps but the sees are black.


Interesting form on the A virginicus. It sounds like it is too rich deep soil kind of plant. for me. It has that wet feel. Nice though..The front field is surprising me as it heals from overgrazing and the drought. As it gets more humus regenerated in the soil, maybe it is holding more water in the soil.

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texasranger2

I thought those seeds might be iffy when I sent them, a couple stems had broken off and they probably weren't fully mature or dry enough but they had sat on the kitchen counter for a couple weeks. I'll put in some fully ripe ones when I send the liatris. I've also got some seeds of that thin delicate NM globe mallow to send, its a good airy see-through type that blooms with those tiny orange flowers and spreads via underground runners but not viciously so, of course mine is in sand and roots do tend to travel through sand.

The splitbeard Andropogon ternarius grows & blooms well + it stays upright among the big roots and planted under the huge pin oak next door where its dry as all get out, never gets watered and gets only 4 hours of afternoon sun. Bluestem flops from too much shade there so I plan to replace flopping Little BS currently on the whole strip along the driveway with A. ternarius. Thats where I want also more Calylophus & I'm sowing those red centered flowered ones of the seeds you sent, the pure yellow kind had red leaves, bloomed all summer and it does really well there, it never turns red like that out back. The choices are limited due to the dry condition and limited hours of sun, trial and error. Salvia Greggii does OK so those three will fill the strip. I'm keeping it simple wimple.

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texasranger2

Yea, grass roots heal soil or so I have read from various sources. Woodstea mentioned that once concerning Big Bluestem and how it had improved an area for him (her?). You'd think any deep rooted grass would break up the soil, get water down there, add organic material over time, stop erosion and slowly help heal the wounds.

July. August, September bloom time on the Silver bluestem. Thats an early and long bloom time compared to some WS grasses. Another reason to plant it. Of course I read the dreaded KR Bluestem blooms a whopping 5 or 6 times per year. "I WANT TO LIVE AND TAKE OVER THE WORLD".

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am planting the A. Tenarius seed anyway. If its a seed, it goes into the ground. Some now and some later in the early spring.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Tex et al, any vegetation gradually will improve the soil; As roots grow, divide, slough off and die, organic matter is added to the rhizosphere. This is one of the reasons why you see places like parks, with hardly any maintenance ever, still support reasonably decent turf and other plantings. The plants themselves improve things over time.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I always think of you , Tom, and your "Texas is a sea of all the wrong grass " article when I look out on my waving in the wind KR.

I think some grasses are better at it than others at incorporating humous and breaking up hard dirt.. The KR roots are not as deep as Bluestem or Indian grass, but there are more of them when they get their coverage going.

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texasranger2

Native American Seed sells live roots of the Cane Bluestem--"beautiful seedheads" "Can tolerate the worst of conditions"

Live Roots: $19 for 5 to 15 plants (depending on species).

Says they got their genetic start from transplanted roots out of a caliche parking lot in downtown Junction.

A D-pack of seed is $9. You'd probably get more seeds the first season from the live roots than a D-pack. Otherwise they only sell it in mixes.

That KR Bluestem sounds kind of sod-like as if it would crowd out wildflower plants & other grasses. I wonder if Cane Bluestem is more of a clumping grass with some space between plants like the way Little Bluestem tends to grow?

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Hey Barn

wantonamara, how did you learn to tell the differences in the bluestems? I've got one here I'd like to i.d. I think it's big bluestem, but not sure. It grows well in an area that stays moist all spring and I'd rather have it than Johnson grass, but only if it isn't going to be the scourge that JG is.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Big Bluestem is not a scourge in my book. BUT in this conversation , many things are called Bluestem and they are not even of the same family as each other. Big bluestem is Androgon gerardi which is different from Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). They are totally different from KR bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica is in the same family as Silver bluestem )Botriochia laguroides ssp.torreyana and Botriochloa barbinodis. These grasses don't look a like and come from different continents. It is confusing because there are many many bluestem varieties within the various species. It gets mind boggling. I do a lot of walking around and looking in fields and gardens. TXranger is much better at grass IDing than me. God luck.


Right now, I am trying to tell the difference in the field between Silver Bluestem and Cane Bluestem. They are both blooming and look similar in the pics online. I am trying to collect seed and want the cane bluestem. I do not want to be seeding non native purposely by accident . If you know what I mean.

How do I tell them apart. I go to google and type in their names and pull up images. Ladybird Johnson wildflower center data base is a good place to go . So is Santa Rosa Garden Gardens has a bunch of bluestem.

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Hey Barn

I didn't mean that Big Bluestem is a scourge. But Johnson grass, yes! I'm 99% sure what I have is Big Bluestem. It isn't blooming yet, but then we mowed in June so that could delay it. Right now it is about 4 feet tall. Once it blooms, I think I'll be able to tell. I had Little Bluestem at our last house, but it even an occasional mowing was too much for it and it eventually died out.

From what I've read, Big Bluestem does really well in moist areas and I'd like it to crowd out the JG, if it really is Big Bluestem. I do have to mow that area a lot right now because of the JG and poison ivy. But so far, this bluestem is coming back. I'm not mowing it very short.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

From what I know , the only way to get rid of johnson gras is to dig and redid and poisoned re poison. I do not think thatBig Bluestem will "crowd " it out. It isa clump grass and I don't think it sends out many stolons., the way JG does. It also does not make as many seeds as JG does.

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Hey Barn

cattle will eat Johnson grass down to the ground and eventually get rid of it but I don't have or want a herd of cattle. Right now roundup is barely turning the JG yellow on the edges. I need to hit it early next year.

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