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Chalky bluestem is a warm season, perennial bunch grass. The height is between 3 and 5 feet. The leaf blade is folded tightly; keeled at base but flattened toward tip; lower blade is 20 to 25 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. The leaf sheath is keeled, overlapping and crowded at base. The ligule has a membrane 1/16-inch long. The seedhead is raceme partly enclosed in purplish brown spathe about 1 inch long.