Grazing North Texas – Green sprangletop

Green sprangletop plant. (Photo by Tony Dean)

By Tony Dean 

Green sprangletop is a native perennial bunch grass. It can grow from 12 to 48 inches in height and leaves are from four to 18 inches long. An interesting thing about this grass is that the stems are unbranched anywhere above the base of the plant.

Green sprangletop is most adapted to rocky hills and medium textured soils, but it can also grow on deep sands and deep clay. It is moderately tolerant of alkaline soils, and weakly tolerant of saline sites. It can be found in most states across the southern United States.

Green sprangletop is good forage for livestock but poor forage for deer. Crude protein levels run from 4.5 percent to 6.5 percent in the fall.

Ecologically, Green sprangletop behaves as a pioneer species, establishing quickly to give soil protection and shade, thereby giving other species a chance to germinate. For this reason, it has long been used as a nurse crop in seeding mixes, providing quick cover until the other species establish.

To read more pick up a copy of the December 2017 NTFR issue.

(Below) The seed head of Green sprangletop is an open panicle spreading four inches to 12 inches in length and with numerous branches up to six inches long. The large seed head below matured during the summer months and the smaller seed head on the right began growing recently, indicating this plant was attempting to produce a second seed crop. (Photo by Tony Dean)