Agrostis airoides Torr.
Sporobolus diffusissimus Buckley
Sporobolus regis I.M.Johnst.
Sporobolus tharpii Hitchc.
Vilfa airoides (Torr.) Trin. ex Steud.
Common Name: Alkali Sakaton
Sporobolus airoides is a perennial, clump-forming grass with erect to spreading culms 60 - 180cm tall. The plant forms large dense clumps of growth[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is frequently used in native soil stabilization projects and has potential for use in reclamation projects, where it can be used to remove selenium from the soil..
Central and western N. America - British Colombia to North Dakota, south to California, Mexico, Texas and Arkansas
Saline flats, prairies and sands[
]. Meadows and valleys, especially in moderately saline soils; at elevations from 800 - 2,000 metres[
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A plant of the temperate to subtropical , semi-arid to moist zones, where it is found at elevations up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 17 - 25°c, but can tolerate 3 - 31°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -30°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -1°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 1,100mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,300mm[
Succeeds in any well drained soil in a sunny position[
]. Plants are found in the wild on dry to moist sites with sandy or gravelly soil[
]. Tolerant of low fertility and of considerable salinity in the soil[
]. Plants often grow in areas subject to seasonal inundation[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 7 - 7.5, tolerating 6.5 - 8.5[
The plant is fairly tolerant of fire - top growth is killed but the plant usually resprouts from the roots[
Seed - raw or cooked. It can be parched, ground into a flour and eaten dry or made into a mush[
]. The grain falls free from the chaff when it is fully ripe[
]. This seed is used in quantity by the Hopi Indians, especially in times of famine[
]. A famine food, it is only used when all else fails[
The plant is frequently utilized for seeding and stabilizing disturbed areas. Due to its salt tolerance, it is recommended for seeding saline sites such as oil well pits and saline waste from power generating plants[
The plant has shown promise as a remediation species on oil well reserve pits and saline waste from coal-fired electrical generating stations]. It has the potential to remove selenium from contaminated soil by accumulating it in shoot biomass[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Only use large seed, and it should be at least one year old[
]. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer if they have grown sufficiently. Otherwise, grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring of the following year. The seed has a long viability - 99% germination was achieved from seed that had been stored at room temperature for 7 years[
Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.