Agrostis cryptandra Torr.
Sporobolus subinclusus Phil.
Vilfa cryptandra (Torr.) Trin.
Vilfa tenacissima fuscicolor Hook.
Vilfa triniana Steud.
Common Name: Sand Dropseed
Sporobolus cryptandrus is an evergreen, perennial, clump-forming grass with usually erect culms that can grow 25 - 120cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It is grown in native soil stabilization projects and can be used to extract pollutants from the soil.
Sand dropseed may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace more desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Sand dropseed is considered an invader species in the Central and Northern Great Plains of N. America[
N. America - British Colombia to Quebec, south to California, northern Mexico, Texas, Alabama and South Carolina
Sandy soils by the coast[
]. Grasslands and disturbed sites[
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Sporobolus cryptandrus is native to semi-arid regions of the temperate and subtropical zones. It is well adapted to sites receiving 170 - 400mm mean annual precipitation[
Succeeds in any well drained soil in a sunny position[
]. The plant is adapted to slightly acidic to slightly basic soils
and has a salt tolerance of less than 4 mmhos/cm[
]. Although the plant prefers well-drained and permeable soils, it can also be found in areas subjected to seasonal flooding[
]. It is also found under cottonwood trees (Populus spp.) within intermittent streambeds and upland areas of playa lakes[
]. Established plants are extremely drought tolerant[
Its fine root system allows sand dropseed to extract water at depths between 0 - 30cm more effectively than broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae). During periods of summer drought the leaves roll up to reduce surface area and evapotranspiration. It is considered to be one of the most drought resistant species in short-grass prairie[
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. It can be parched, ground into a flour and eaten dry or made into a mush[
]. The ground seed can also be added to biscuits, breads and other cereal concoctions[
]. The tiny seed is easily freed from its husks[
Sand dropseed is a prolific seed producer. In one study, a single panicle yielded approximately 10,000 seeds. Seeds are very small; there are approximately 5.6 million seeds/lb, and 67 pounds of seed per bushel[
The plant has been used to create a cold infusion that is applied to sores and bruises on the legs of horses[
The plant is widely used in disturbed area plantings in southwestern and central N. Amrerica. The dense, sand binding network of fibrous roots which can spread up to 60cm laterally and over 240cm deep effectively stabilizes sand dunes and hills. Its abundant seed production makes it a pioneer plant in disturbed areas and an invader of sandy soils. It has also been noted as an early native colonizer in sites suffering from water stress[
Use of sand dropseed for revegetating soils contaminated by heavy metals has varied results. No germination was observed for sand dropseed used in a seeding mixture applied to an abandoned New Mexico coal surface mine recently covered with 20 - 30cm of topsoil. Container grown plugs of sand dropseed were transplanted to revegetate a coalfield in Utah. Percent survival the 1st year was 91%; the 2nd year, 73%. Mortality observed during the 1st year occurred only for sand dropseed individuals planted adjacent to plots of well-established cool season grasses[
In the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, sand dropseed was used in a seeding mixture for reclaiming surface coal mines. In areas receiving less than 180mm annual precipitation, sand dropseed was dominant[
]. Sand dropseed is not recommended for revegetating Selenium (Se) enriched soils in Texas. Forage tissues retain high Se levels and shoot weights are drastically lowered within soils of high Se concentration[
]. However, this does mean that if the vegetation is cut and removed, it will also remove some of the selenium from the soil[
Sand dropseed is a colonizer of drought disturbed and previously cultivated lands. Invasion and establishment upon previously abandoned cultivated lands in the southern plains has been observed. Within semi-arid mixed prairie landscapes, sand dropseed is one of the 1st to colonize denuded sandy to silty soil rangelands. Sand dropseed was the principle grass within a field 14 years out of cultivation in Colorado. Sand dropseed is also good at colonizing open spaces associated with heavy grazing[
A bunch of the grass, about 30cm long, can be tied together with string and used as a brush for cleaning[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. 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 requires overwintering or scarification for successful germination. The seed coat is very hard and impermeable. Seed lots frequently contain up to 50% hard seed; however, the seed can retain high levels of viability for many years under proper seed storage conditions. One seed lot that was twenty year old recorded 75% viability. Older seed generally has better germination and establishment than younger seed[
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.