Broomsedge Bluestem – Indiana Farmer Introduced the Plant to Me as “Poverty Weed” Years Ago

In the past two weeks, I had two inquiries about a grass that was invading a grass hayfield and pasture. The pictures shared showed old growth of 2021 that was beige-bronze in color, narrow leaved, and had tufts of pubescence remaining. Most seed had been windblown during the fall and winter. The plant was the warm-season perennial bunchgrass broomsedge bluestem (Andropogan virginicus). Many have also likely asked “What is that plant” the past couple of months.

broomsedge bluestem

Broomsedge bluestem invasion is occurring in a grass hayfield.

One of my first Purdue Extension in-field education events in the early 1980’s was my introduction to broomsedge bluestem. Areas of the southern Indiana grass pasture had more broomsedge bluestem than the desired forages that were seeded. I recall that a farmer leaned over and said “We call it poverty weed”. I once thought that broomsedge bluestem was a southern Indiana plant only, but as the years have gone by I see the plant all over Indiana. A few years ago, a group of farmers were doing sensory analyses of different hay samples and chemical analyses were available, too. One of the samples on display, was broomsedge bluestem. The chemical forage analysis verified why the grass has the nickname poverty weed. It would have made better bedding than a feed resource.

Broomsedge bluestem is a biological indicator plant. Where it becomes invasive it is common that the soil pH and/or phosphorus are very low. The method of reducing broomsedge bluestem is not investing in an herbicide application, but to apply the recommended amount of limestone or fertilizer as determined by a soil test. Slow but sure, the desired forages will become more dominant.

As hay is harvested, nutrients are being removed. In time, deficiencies will occur if nutrients are not wisely replaced by commercial fertilizer or livestock manure applications. Don’t let your field go into poverty status!

Resource information:


Photo contributed by Keith Johnson, Purdue University Extension Forage Specialist

Share This Article
It is the policy of the Purdue University that all persons have equal opportunity and access to its educational programs, services, activities, and facilities without regard to race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, disability or status as a veteran. Purdue is an Affirmative Action Institution. This material may be available in alternative formats. 1-888-EXT-INFO Disclaimer: Reference to products in this publication is not intended to be an endorsement to the exclusion of others which may have similar uses. Any person using products listed in this publication assumes full responsibility for their use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.
Pest&Crop newsletter - Department of Entomology Purdue University 901 Mitch Daniels Blvd West Lafayette, IN 47907

© 2024 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Pest&Crop newsletter

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Pest&Crop newsletter at