Fluffgrass

Fluffgrass, courtesy of Michael Charters

© Michael L. Charters. Southern California Wildflowers, http://www.calflora.net

Common Name(s):

Fluffgrass
Low woollygrass
Low tridens
Desert fluffgrass

Scientific Name(s):

Dasyochloa pulchella (Kunth) Willd. ex Rydb.
Sieglingia pulchella
(H.B.K.) Kuntze
Tricuspis pulchella (H.B.K.) Torr.
Erioneuron pulchellum (Kunth) Tateoka
Tridens pulchellus (Kunth) A.S. Hitchc.
Triodia pulchella Kunth

Symbol:

DAPU7

Description:

Life Span: Perennial         
Origin: Native
Season: Warm

 

Growth Characteristics: A low, densely tufted perennial bunchgrass, sometimes forming open mats, and growing 3 to 6 inches tall. It is weakly rooted and easily dislodged from the soil. Flowering occurs from mid-July through mid-September.

Seedhead: A short panicle, usually not extended beyond the leaf-blades. It has 1 – 5 spikelets that are almost attached directly to the rachis and containing 5 – 10 florets. Its glumes are about equal, broad, awn-pointed, ¼ to 1/3 inches long and about as long as the spikelet. The lemmas are around 1/8 inch long, conspicuously long and hairy below, split about half way with an awn extending from between the 2-lobed apex and about as long as the lobes. The seedhead produces and retains a pair of papery bracts when seeds fall.

 

Leaves: Short, stiff, sharp-pointed, rough, and in clusters at the top of the internode. These clusters frequently bend over to the ground and root, reproducing the plant vegetatively. 

Stems: Low, tufted, slender, seldom over 6 inches long and consist of one long internode.

Ecological Adaptations:

Found on the dry plains and rocky barren foothills of desert areas of Southern Utah between 2000’ and 6000’ in elevation. It is well adapted to areas where precipitation is low (less than 6 inches) but highly variable.

 

Soils: Found on sandy to gravelly soils and particularly on limey soils. 

Associated Species: Red brome, indigobush, creosotebush, range ratany, bush muhly, desert baileya, Joshua tree, Utah juniper, pinyon, and other semi-desert and desert species.

Uses and Management:

Fluffgrass provides only limited forage for livestock and is not a preferred species. It is commonly used throughout the year by creation wildlife species like the desert tortoise. It has aesthetic value in that its fluffiness contrasts with the stark, open background of its relatively barren habitat. Fluffgrass in abundance is indicative of low site productivity.