Sporobolus airoides (Torr.) Torr.
Alkali Sacaton, Zacate Alcalino
Poaceae (Grass Family)
Synonym(s): Agrostis airoides
USDA Symbol: SPAI
This is a 1-5 ft., warm-season, perennial grass growing in large, tough bunches. Its narrow, gray-green leaves cure blond. The graceful, open seedhead is composed of tiny, reddish spikelets. The name sacaton is derived from the Aztec/Nahuatl word for grass, zacatl.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
DistributionUSA: AR , AZ , CA , CO , ID , KS , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , NY , OK , OR , SC , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Native Distribution: Much of western North America, from Puebla in central Mexico north to ND, w. to s.e. B.C. & CA. In Texas, found mostly in the south, west, and north.
Native Habitat: Sandy or gravelly slopes; saline flats; floodplains
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist to dry, alkaline, fine-textured soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam Clay Loam, Clay, Caliche type, Saline tolerant
Conditions Comments: Alkali sacaton is tolerant of flooding, drought, and saline-alkaline conditions. It is good for dust control and soil protection on saline-alkaline soils with limited moisture availability.
Value to Beneficial InsectsProvides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
PropagationDescription: Sow seed.
Seed Treatment: A variety of treatments, including no pretreatment, have been used. Sowing wet, high diurnal temperature fluctuations, and/or a brief stratification period have given good results.
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Groundcover for erosion control
September 23, 2008
I live in southern california. What is the best groundcover to plant on a slope to prevent erosion?
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Sporobolus airoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Sporobolus airoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Sporobolus airoides
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-26
Research By: TWC Staff