Sporobolus cryptandrus flexuosus (Vasey) Thurb.
Vilfa cryptandra flexuosa Vasey
Common Name: Mesa Dropseed
Sporobolus flexuosus is an evergreen, perennial grass, occasionally growing as an annual. It grows in clumps, producing erect culms 30 - 120cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is used within its native range to stabilize soils, especially on sandy dunes.
South-western N. America - California to Montana, south to northern Mexico and Texas
Deserts; at elevations up to 1,200 metres in California[
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Sporobolus flexuosus occurs mainly in dry areas with mean annual precipitation of 300mm or less; it can survive in areas with as little as 150 - 180mm mean annual precipitation[
The plant occurs in the wild on well-drained sand, sandy loams, loamy sands and gravelly soils[
]; In cultivation, it generally succeeds in any well drained soil in a sunny position[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
Plants are short-lived, usually living for around 4 - 5 years[
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. It can be ground into a flour and used as a gruel or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread, biscuits etc[
]. The grain falls free from the chaff when it is fully ripe[
]. The seed is very small and fiddly to utilize[
]. A famine food, it is normally only used when other foods are in short supply[
The plant is used in stabilization projects on sandy soils[
Seed - it has a hard seed coat that must be punctured before good germination occurs. 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.
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.