© words & music by Annie Wilson
from CD Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky

Album note: In this tune, we sing praises to the economic, cultural and biological significance of this signature Flint Hills species:  the tallest of the warm season grasses that compose the tallgrass prairie.   The title comes from the Greenwood County Conservation District's "King of the Prairie" Contest for the tallest Big Bluestem plant (a recent winner was almost ten feet high!).

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Enjoy review of this song by botanist Iralee Barnard for Kansas Native Plant Society

Learn more about Big Bluestem in Lesson Plan based on this song. 


Oh the Big Bluestem grows on the prairie's Great Plains 
He can handle the heat and a month without rain 
He blankets the pastures with tall purple stems 
In the warm summer evenings they dance in the wind 

In the warm days of April his first blades will show 
And start drinking in sun to send carbon below 
The roots take that energy to make the grass grow 
In the cycle of life the Big Bluestem knows 

     He's the King of the Prairie; he's the tallest of all 
     He's green in the summer and red in the fall 
     He grows high on the ridge and in the meadows supreme 
     The cows and the calves love his kingdom of green    

He's the cattleman's favorite with his bushy green leaves 
Those heifers and steers he surely can please 
His roots go down twelve feet, his stems reach up nine 
When they burn off the prairie, he grows back just fine 

He has riches of rhizomes and ligules and blades 
And he wears his crown low by the soil for shade 
A turkey foot serves as his scepter so high 
To carry his seeds for the next summertime   


His roots are a factory 'neath the ground of the plain They build up the soil and drink up the rain   
Those roots grip the ground in the flood and the storm 
And hold the grass up to the sunshine so warm