Fluffgrass

(Dasyochloa pulchella (Kunth) Willd. ex Rydb.)




Synonyms
Erioneuron pulchellum (Kunth) Tateoka; Triodia pulchella Kunth
Description
A low, densely tufted, perennial bunchgrass 3 to 6 inches tall, often with runners and sometimes forming an open sod. Fluffgrass is fuzzy bluish-green, curing to a grayish-white. The leaves are thin and wiry, 1 to 2 inches long, growing in distinct gr oups at the base of the stem and at the end of the culms just beneath the inflorescence. The inflorescence is borne on a stem that is leafless from the base of the plant to just below the spikelet cluster. The seeds form among a bunch of leaves at the end of the stem. The flower parts are densely hairy and silvery. Seeds fall at maturity, leaving a pair of papery bracts.
Distribution and habitat
Fluffgrass occurs throughout the state up to an elevation of 6,000 feet. It rarely grows in abundance on productive sites and is a reliable indicator of areas of low potential productivity. It flowers from March to October.
General information
Fluffgrass is one of the poorest forage grasses on Arizona ranges. When young and actively growing the plants are covered with a bluish-white down that may be objectionable to livestock. Later, when the plants mature, the leaves become harsh, wiry, an d sharp pointed. Because of these features fluffgrass is normally grazed only on ranges where there is a feed shortage. Even moderate use of this low value plant is an indication that stocking levels are too high or grazing periods too long in relation to grazing capacities. In this case a reduction in numbers or time of grazing is required, both from the point of view of the immediate welfare of the cattle and the long-term condition of the range.