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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #329729

Research Project: Conservation, Characterization, and Evaluation of Plant Genetic Resources and Associated Information

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Title: Cultivar development in Little Bluestem

Author
item Harrison, Melanie
item ROBACKER, CAROL - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: Turfgrass and Landscape Research Field Day
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/6/2016
Publication Date: 8/4/2016
Citation: Harrison, M.L., Robacker, C. 2016. Cultivar development in Little Bluestem. UGA Turfgrass and Landscape Research Field Day. p.30-31.

Interpretive Summary: Little bluestem is a grass native to North America with a range extending from Canada to Mexico. Plants typically grow to a height of one to three feet and produce green to blue-green leaves. However, there is variation within little bluestem that can be used to produce plants with additional foliage color and form. Little bluestem is beneficial to wildlife providing seed for feeding and nesting habitat in its tufted lower leaves. It is drought tolerant, has low fertilizer requirements, and encounters few insect and disease problems. These characteristics make it an ideal plant for providing ornamental plant cover in large areas where high maintenance is not practical. Three little bluestem cultivars that have unique leaf color and growth habit were developed by a joint project between the USDA and the University of Georgia. These three cultivars are named ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, and ‘Good Vibrations’ as the series ‘Hit Parade’. The cultivar ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has an upright rounded form featuring colorful red, purple, and green cascading foliage throughout the growing season. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has purple cascading foliage mixed with silvery blue that gives the plant an overall iridescent lavender glow. ‘Good Vibrations’ has blue-green foliage tipped with burgundy creating a striking color display.

Technical Abstract: Little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, is a warm-season perennial grass native to North America with a range extending from Canada to Mexico. It is a predominant species of the tallgrass prairie and can be found growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 to 9. There is a large amount of variation within this species which can be readily exploited to develop cultivars with unique ornamental characteristics. Little bluestem typically grows to a height of one to three feet and produces green to blue-green foliage. Through a modified recurrent selection scheme, three little bluestem cultivars that have unique foliage color and growth habit were developed by a joint project between the USDA and the University of Georgia. These three cultivars are licensed by EuroAmerican and are being marketed as ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Seasons in the Sun’, and ‘Good Vibrations’ as the series ‘Hit Parade’. The cultivar ‘Cinnamon Girl’ has an upright rounded form featuring colorful red, purple, and green cascading foliage throughout the growing season. ‘Seasons in the Sun’ has purple cascading foliage mixed with silvery blue that gives the plant an overall iridescent lavender glow. ‘Good Vibrations’ has blue-green foliage tipped with burgundy creating a striking color display.