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Southwestern Bristlegrass

Setaria scheelei

Other common name(s):

Scheele's Bristlegrass, Scheele's Foxtail Grass, Foxtail Grass

Family:

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Plant Ecoregion Distribution Map

Chihuahuan Deserts, Cross Timbers, East Central Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes, Southern Texas Plains, Texas Blackland Prairies
Low Mountains and Bajadas
Limestone Cut Plain
Bastrop Lost Pines, San Antonio Prairie, Southern Post Oak Savanna
Balcones Canyonlands, Edwards Plateau Woodland, Llano Uplift, Semiarid Edwards Plateau
Coastal Sand Plain, Floodplains and Low Terraces4, Laguna Madre Barrier Island and Coastal Marshes, Lower Rio Grande Alluvial Floodplain, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Mid-Coast Barrier Islands and Coastal Marshes, Northern Humid Gulf Coastal Prairies, Southern Subhumid Gulf Coastal Prairies
Northern Nueces Alluvial Plains, Rio Grande Floodplain and Terraces, Semiarid Edwards Bajada, Texas-Tamaulipan Thornscrub
Floodplains and Low Terraces1, Northern Blackland Prairie, Southern Blackland Prairie

Plant Characteristics

Growth Form

Grass & Sedge

Height

2
to
3
ft.

Spread

0.5
to
1
ft.

Leaf Retention

Deciduous

Lifespan

Perennial

Habitat and Care Requirements

Soil Type(s)

Sand, Loam, Well Drained

Light Requirement

Part Shade, Shade

Water Requirement

Low, Medium

Native Habitat

Grassland

Bloom and Attraction

Bloom Color

White, Green

Bloom Season

Spring, Summer, Fall

Seasonal Interest

Seeds, Forage, Larval Host

Wildlife Benefit

Browsers, Birds, Small Mammals

Maintenance

One of the “big four” grasses of the American tallgrass prairie. Nice ornamental bunch grass. Likes disturbed soils in shaded to partly shaded areas. Requires less supplemental water in richer soils. Cut back if dies back during drought and during winter dormancy. Propagation: Clump division, Seed.

Comments

Warm season bunchgrass with somewhat flattened stems and sheaths. Dense system of roots may reach down to 8′ in depth. Leaves and stems are purplish to blue green in color. Seeds eaten by songbirds, waterfowl, marsh birds, and small mammals. In the wild it occurs in sandy loam soils and usually in the shade of trees or shrubs. Larval Host: most branded skippers and most of the satyrs.
Previous Scientific Name(s): Synonym(s): Panicum scheelei

References

1) Griffith, Bryce, Omernick & Rodgers (2007). Ecoregions of Texas. 2) https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=SESC2. 3) https://portal.torcherbaria.org/portal/taxa/index.php?taxon=Setaria+scheelei&formsubmit=Search+Terms. 4) http://bonap.net/TDC/Image/Map?taxonType=Species&taxonId=19020&locationType=County&mapType=Normal, 5) https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=41238#null, 6) Hatch, Umphres, Ardoin, 2015, Field Guide to Common Texas Grasses, pg 256,.
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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason