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Setaria scheelei (Southwestern bristlegrass)
Livings, Hal

Setaria scheelei

Setaria scheelei (Steud.) Hitchc.

Southwestern bristlegrass, Scheele's bristlegrass, Foxtail grass, Scheele's foxtail grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Panicum scheelei

USDA Symbol: sesc2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Plant: Coarse, with stout, spreading culms. Culms: 70-130 cm. tall. Blades: Thin, flat, dark green, 15-30 cm. long & 5-18 mm. broad, usually finely pubescent. Bristles: Usually solitary below each spikelet, mostly 15-35 mm. long. Spikelets: 2.1-2.6 mm. long, ovate or ovate-oblong.

Native from north-central Texas west to Arizona and south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico, Setaria scheelei is a knee- to thigh-high, warm-season bunchgrass commonly found in the dappled shade of open woodlands, limestone canyons, and urban side yards. It has cheery seedheads sometimes referred to as foxtails and is easy to grow from seed. Abundant in central Texas, where it tends to favor more disturbed soils than the two other common central Texas shade grasses, Virginia Wildrye (Elymus virginicus) and Inland Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium). Often seen growing there with False Dayflower (Tinantia anomala), White Panicle Aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum ssp. lanceolatum), Texas Nightshade (Solanum triquetrum), Drummonds Ruellia (Ruellia drummondiana), and other shade-loving woodland forbs.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous , Pilose
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Spikelet
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Normally 2-3 ft but can reach 4 ft.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Green becoming beige
Size Class: 1-3 ft. , 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov

Distribution

USA: AZ , NM , TX
Native Distribution: North-central Texas south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico and west to Arizona
Native Habitat: Shaded canyons and open woodlands.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2) , Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: A variety of soils, but mostly woodland soils and disturbed soils, including soils of urban areas. The richer the soil the less water required.
Conditions Comments: Usually found in dappled shade.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: An attractive grass with decorative seedheads for shaded landscapes.
Use Wildlife: Seeds: Songbirds, waterfowl, marsh birds, small mammals. Foliage and seeds: mammals.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Larval Host: The Grass Family is an essential larval food for most branded skippers and most of the satyrs.
Deer Resistant: High

Propagation

Propagation Material: Clump Division , Seeds
Description: Easily grown from fresh seed.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds when at the ripe dough stage, usually just as the color has changed from green to brown.
Maintenance: Sometimes dies back during droughts; cut back then and during winter dormancy. Shake out ripe seedheads in areas you want the plant to spread to. To avoid drought die-back, water sparingly during droughts and/or add woodland compost.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Patsy Glenn Refuge - Wimberley, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-MM-794 Collected 2010-11-20 in Hays County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Bibliography

Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 281 - Shinners & Mahler's Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas (1999) Diggs, G. M.; B. L. Lipscomb; B. O'Kennon; W. F...

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Setaria scheelei in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Setaria scheelei in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Setaria scheelei

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2010-12-23
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG

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