Nature and Science
Big Bluestem

unknown photo

Grasses were a significant part of the tallgrass prairie in this region of the Midwest. Big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) were two of the dominant grasses in this area. Both grew upwards of 3’ tall. In the early 1800s, European settlers began converting the prairie into small towns, agricultural fields, and small farms. The prairie grasses disappeared and crops took their place. Livestock grazed other parts of the prairie and depleted the supply of natural vegetation. During Mr. Lincoln’s residency, from 1844-1861, prairie grasses existed in some undeveloped areas of central Illinois. Today, at Lincoln Home, prairie grasses are not featured in the landscape. Ornamental grasses are seen in the parking lot and visitor center. The lawns in Mr. Lincoln’s neighborhood are contemporary grasses made up of common lawn grasses and others which are mowed regularly to control weeds.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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