The native plant this week is a perennial grass that has recently been growing in SW Florida. Especially for those who drive along San Carlos Blvd and noticed that ditches were loaded with white and brownish grasses blowing in the wind. Lee County has since cleaned out the ditches, but the Broomsedge Bluestem, Andropogon virginicus, still grows in local disturbed sites and alongside of roads. Virginicus is a tufted grass with several erect stems to a height of 6’. Green leaf blades vary from 3” to 12” in length and 3/8” wide.
The upper portion on the plant is covered in dense white hairs. It is here that a raceme inflorescence takes place with the growth of pairs of very small spikelets. Spikelets are grass flowers, consisting of bracts and florets. Spikelets produce an enormous amount of wind-blown seeds which are very successful in germination, resulting in colonization wherever the seeds land. Blooming occurs summer to fall. When fall arrives, the greenish plants turn brown .
Virginicus is a one of 19 species of the Genus Andropogon. Poaceae is the Grass family. Grasses are monocots that have a relation to Palm Trees. Distribution is in every county in the State. The specimen in the picture was shot in a lot next to a local Walgreens.
Photo by James Rodwell