A native, warm-season, short-lived perennial bunchgrass. The height is between 2 to 3 feet. The leaf blade is 2 to 8 inches long. The stems are round at the base, but sometimes branching at nodes. The lower part is purplish throughout the growing season and usually has a ring of white hairs at the nodes. Stems turn irregularly at each node. The seedhead is a raceme that is silky white soon after it emerges from the sheath.
Silver bluestem is used primarily for grazing. Cattle graze it a few weeks in the spring, but little after the seedheads form. It can be grazed some during the winter if livestock are fed a protein supplement. Goats relish the seedheads when seed is in the dough stage. This grass is usually not seeded nor managed to control erosion on critical areas but established itself readily on denuded soils and overgrazed ranges.