colors the winter landscape.
NEWS, Va. ó Broomsedge, botanically called Andropogon
virginicus, adds color to the winter landscape with
clumps of reddish-orange stems and leaves, striking when
sunlight catches the white, fuzzy seedheads, according
to Helen Hamilton, past president of the John Clayton
Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society.
in every county of Virginia, it is found throughout the
eastern states, from Massachusetts to Ohio, Missouri and
Kansas, south to Florida and Texas. Requiring low
amounts of water, the grass can be used for residential
landscaping and golf courses.
spring, this perennial grass forms a stiff clump of
light green stems 3 feet tall. Tufts of paired flowers
are held against the stem by leafy bracts, opening in
late fall. Attached to each seed is a straight bristle
surrounded by silvery hairs, allowing distribution by
Bluestem, A. ternarius, is a similar grass, but the
flowers are obviously paired, each seed with a bent
bristle, not straight, says Helen.
grass grows in open, sunny locations on dry soil,
preferably loose, sandy, and moist sites such as
abandoned fields, roadsides and clearings. While the
primary native meadow grass in the northeast, the
presence of broomsedge often indicates poor soil, low in
phosphorus, that has been overgrazed and nutrient-poor.
is a nectar source and larval host for butterflies,
including the Zabulon skipper. Small birds eat the seeds
in winter when other food supplies are limited, and the
grass provides cover for ground nesting birds such as
quail and turkeys.
more information about native plants, visit
www.claytonvnps.org and www.vnps.org; learn about Helenís
newest native plant book at http://wildflowersofvirginia.com.