Species Spotlight – Schizachyrium littorale

Schizachyrium littorale

Probably the most amazing little bluestem

Shore little bluestem, Schizachyrium littorale, is almost unknown in the native nursery trade yet is probably the most amazing and durable species in the genus. A close cousin of Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium, Schizachyrium littorale can be found from Massachusetts to Texas but can be incredibly difficult to find. Schizachyrim littorale seems perfectly happy in any well-drained situation and can even handle growing on secondary dunes where soil moisture remains relatively consistent, albeit at low levels, and in full sun.  Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of Schizachyrium littorale is its intense decorative qualities.  Probably because of the constant winds where this species grows aplenty it tends to hold onto it very copious seed set much better and for much longer than Schizachyrium scoparium, giving it a lush, feathery look not found in most little bluestem strains and it tends to stand straight and tall.

The first known large-scale use of Schizachyrium littorale in a landscape setting is at the Queens Borough municipal center parking lot project.  Pictures of this project should become available in late 2018.

Note: Unlike most east coast strains of Schizachyrium scoparium that mostly confined to very thin or very sandy soils or rocky outcrops, Schizachyrium littorale wants to grow extensive lateral root systems. This could be an advantage in some situations, including green roof settings.

This species has not yet been tested by us in a setting with lots of moisture.  We anticipate that it will suffer from the same overgrowth and flopping problems that we see with Schizachyrium scoparium.

ArcheWild has been supplying this amazing plant to restoration and landscaping projects since 2014.  Available in 98s, 50s, and quarts.

USDA maps.

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