Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Sacaton, alkali
(a.k.a. Salt grass)

Alkali sacaton in the grassland landscape

Alkali sacaton is a perennial bunchgrass. It is good forage for horses and cattle as well as deer, small mammals (it is relished by jackrabbits), and birds. It is frequently utilized for seeding and stabilizing disturbed areas. Due to its salt tolerance, it is recommended for seeding sites such as oil well pits and saline waste from power plants. It ranges in height from 20 to 60 inches, with flat leaves 1/16 to 1/4 inches wide that taper from the base of the leaf. The inflorescence is an open panicle 8 to 20 inches long with a pyramidal shape. The small seeds rest singly on branches in the loose, open seedhead.

Alkali sacaton blooms from April to May in the Southwest. It grows in both saline and nonsaline coarse, medium, and fine textured soils. This grass is tolerant of salinity and a broad range in pH.

After establishment, alkali sacaton is tolerant of drought and water inundation. However, it is intolerant of shade and is found growing in open areas.

Alkali sacaton herbarium specimen
Alkali sacaton displaying its bunchgrass habit
Close-up of delicately branched seedhead
Seeds clinging to the delicate branches of the seedhead

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