En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Friday - January 11, 2008

From: Fredericksburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Native grasses palatable for horses and eliminating KR bluestem.
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Looking for native Texas grasses which are palatable for horses, to overseed in areas which are currently overrun with KR bluestem. What are the best grasses and best way to accomplish this? (SW Gillespie Co.) Thanks!

ANSWER:

First, let's address the problem of getting rid of King Ranch (KR) bluestem. We've had several inquiries recently and, in fact, the 2007 Texas Invasive Plant Conference had an entire day devoted to a symposium addressing just this question. Please see the answer to a recent question about eliminating KR bluestem for a thorough discussion of the problem.

Here are several native grasses that make good forage for horses and cattle:

Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama)

Bouteloua hirsuta (hairy grama)

Bouteloua curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem)

Tripsacum dactyloides (eastern gamagrass)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Panicum virgatum (switchgrass)

You can read an analysis of most of the species above in Forages of Texas - North Central by Texas A&M Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Stephenville.

Several sources (e.g., Safergrass.org) emphasize the nutritional benefits of using native grasses over introduced grasses. You do need to realize, however, that native grass pastures are more difficult to establish than pastures of the introduced forage grasses. Native grasses face competition from introduced nonnative grasses and need to be managed carefully to prevent overgrazing. Native Prairies Association of Texas, Kansas State University and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation have information on planting and establishing native grasses.

Native American Seed in Junction is an excellent source for native grass seeds. They also have information on planting native grasses. You can also look for other seed companies and nurseries in your area that specialize in native plants in our National Suppliers Directory.

A cautionary note—although most native grasses are desirable to feed your horses, there are some grasses and other plants, both native and non-native, that you should avoid for your pasture. The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation has compiled a list of Poisonous Plant Considerations.

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Erosion controlling Groundcover for Phenix AL
March 30, 2014 - Hi I am trying to find a grass or ground cover to control erosion on firing range berms which are 1:1 grade on a firing range outside of Phenix City AL. Sandy clay soil, direct sunlight almost all day...
view the full question and answer

Removing Center Stem From Desert Spoon (Sotol) in Phoenix
March 11, 2016 - I have a desert spoon. I hate the center stem. Can I remove the center stem without hurting the rest of the plant? And what is the best way to remove it? I looked for this answer in your questions bu...
view the full question and answer

Meadow garden for Colorado Springs CO
June 03, 2012 - We recently purchased a restored home on a mesa just above the downtown area of Colorado Springs on the front range. The previous owners seeded the front lawn with blue gramma and told me that all I ...
view the full question and answer

Restoring tornado-damaged property in Alexander City AL
January 29, 2012 - Dear Mr Smartypants, We were struck by the outbreak of tornadoes last spring and our wonderful woods are now unsightly sloping pastures with erosion problems.. many stumps and coils of roots. We are...
view the full question and answer

Is Panicum virgatum native to Pennsylvania
July 22, 2011 - Is Panicum virgatum native to PA? I do not see it in your database but it is listed as a native in many places.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center