Sand dropseed

(Sporobolus cryptandrus (Torr.) A. Gray)




Synonyms
Agrostis cryptandra Torr.
Description
Sand dropseed is a warm season perennial bunchgrass, l to 4 feet tall. Its culms are erect at the base but curve at the top. A ring of stiff, short hairs encircles the culm at the sheath/blade junction. The leaves are 4 to 12 inches long and 1/4 inc h wide, bluish-green curing to a light straw yellow. When dried, the old leaves become frayed by the wind and "flag" out at right angles to the stem. The purplish inflorescence of sand dropseed is branched but narrow, and often entirely enclosed by the up per leaves. Its spikelets are single-flowered and awnless.
Distribution and habitat
Sand dropseed occurs throughout the state at up to 7,000 feet. As its name implies, sand dropseed usually grows on sand. It is not restricted to such sites, however, and may be encountered on a wide variety of soils. Sand dropseed has been reseeded on light, sandy soils more successfully than most grasses. The seeds are extremely small and many of them sift down into the soil where they germinate. It flowers April to October.
General information
Sand dropseed varies in its palatability from one region to another In most of Arizona it is generally classed as fair to good feed for cattle and horses and fair for sheep in the spring and summer months when green. After it is mature it is poor fora ge for all classes of stock. It begins growth later than most of the grasses with which it grows. In some regions sand dropseed can provide good winter forage, especially for domestic sheep, as the stems at the base of sand dropseed remain green most of t he winter. If fall rains are adequate, sand dropseed may even have a period of renewed growth, producing new shoots in old sheaths. Sand dropseed will increase under moderate use on ranges where the original perennial grasses have been killed. Under heavy use it will also be killed. Moderate utilization levels and periodic growing season deferment are suggested to maintain stands.