Alkali sacaton

(Sporobolus airoides (Torr.) Torr. )




Synonyms
Agrostis airoides Torr.
Description (details)
A coarse, tough, native perennial, alkali sacaton grows in large, dense clumps, 2 to 3 feet tall. The foliage is pale green with a slightly grayish cast. The leaves are firm and fibrous, up to 18 inches long and about 1/4 inch wide, rolled and droopin g. The panicle of the inflorescence is loose and open, with widely spreading branches, 12 to 18 inches long and 6 to 10 inches wide. The spikelets are between 2 and 3 mm long, brownish or lead colored. Ripe seeds are black.
Distribution and habitat
Growing at elevations between 1,500 and 7,500 feet, it occurs on fine-textured, often alkaline soils of bottomlands and flats, and on sandy plateaus and washes. Alkali sacaton is notable for its tolerance to alkaline soil, drought, flooding, moderate grazing, and mining disturbance. Stands of this grass stabilize eroding soil. Alkali sacaton flowers from May to October.
General information
Alkali sacaton is a valuable forage species in arid and semiarid regions. Plants are tolerant to moderate grazing and can produce abundant herbage utilized by livestock and wildlife. While this grass is growing vigorously it generally rates as fair to rather good forage for large grazing animals, poor to fair for sheep. When dry, it provides poor forage. (It makes fair quality hay when cut during the bloom stage.) Solid stands of alkali sacaton should be grazed during the spring and summer when growth is most active. Where possible these areas should be fenced from surrounding uplands to avoid overuse of those areas. Where it grows only as scattered plants, it cannot be fully utilized or the other grasses will be overgrazed.