En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - September 29, 2013

From: Godley, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Bunch grasses for labyrinth that are good for livestock
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I'm designing an outdoor labyrinth that will be in full sun in our black Slidell clay soil here in north central Texas. The area MAY be mowed for hay at a later date (i.e. post-drought). To define the 12-inch-wide borders of the pathways, I am thinking a native perennial bunch grass along with annual wildflowers would be appropriate as well as "fine in case of hay harvest." Would Texas grama and/or hairy tridens would be a good choice? Am I missing another likely candidate for a native, low height, livestock-friendly border plant? Thank you so much!

ANSWER:

What an intriguing project!  You are in luck making your labyrinth in full sun because most grasses grow best in full sun.  The grasses you mentioned as well as the other ones recommended below will all grow in clay; however, you might want to consider some other bunch grasses that are more palatable for livestock.  You can see that the first two, the ones you mention, are both described as being poor grazing for livestock and wildlife.

 Erioneuron pilosum (Hairy tridens)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Poor grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Bouteloua rigidiseta (Texas grama)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Poor grazing for livestock and wildlife."

The following bunch grasses occur in Johnson County and you can see what the Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says about their grazing quality.  I've arranged them with the "good grazing" grasses first.

 Bouteloua curtipendula (Sideoats grama)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for both livestock and wildlife."

Elymus canadensis (Canada wild rye)  Texas A&M Agrilife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for livestock. Fair grazing for wildlife."

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass)  Texas A&M Agrilife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Good grazing for livestock. Fair grazing for wildlife."

Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. oligosanthes (Heller's rosette grass)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that another closely-related variety, Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. scribnerianum, is "Fair grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana (Silver beard grass)  Texas A&M AgriLife's Plants of Texas Rangelands says that it is "Fair grazing for livestock and wildlife."

Good luck with your project!

 

From the Image Gallery


Hairy woollygrass
Erioneuron pilosum

Texas grama
Bouteloua rigidiseta

Sideoats grama
Bouteloua curtipendula

Canada wild rye
Elymus canadensis

Switchgrass
Panicum virgatum

Heller's rosette grass
Dichanthelium oligosanthes var. oligosanthes

Silver beard grass
Bothriochloa laguroides ssp. torreyana

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Native Hill Country grasses, flowers for April garden show
March 17, 2005 - I will be a first ever (!) exhibitor in my garden club's garden show this April 7. Our theme is The Passion of Texas - my specific category is The Hill Country. Help!!! All materials I use must be al...
view the full question and answer

What flowers will ducks and swans not eat?
January 11, 2009 - I live by ducks and swans. They love eating my flowers. Any suggestions on what flowering plants they won't eat?
view the full question and answer

Identification of native wild grass in Austin
February 01, 2009 - I had some landscaping done in my yard in Austin. My aim was minimal care so I requested native Texas plants. I am plant illiterate and just now looking in the City of Austin "grow green guide" to...
view the full question and answer

Wintering non-native liriope spicata indoors in Chillicothe IL
November 08, 2013 - I live in zone 5, zip 62523, wintering liriope spicata starter plants in basement, ambient consistent. Do I need grow lamps or is the plant satisfied being dormant as long as I do not let it dry out? ...
view the full question and answer

Need Native Cover Crop in Seguin, TX
October 11, 2010 - Is there a native winter cover crop that would control erosion until spring vegetation takes over?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center