Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Dropseed, sand
Tł’ohtsohzhóó’

Grassland habitat with sand dropseed in situ displaying a slightly reddish tinge

Sand dropseed is a perennial bunchgrass growing from 2 to 3 feet high. Sand dropseed is extremely drought tolerant and is adapted to sites receiving 7 to 16 inches of annual precipitation. Its fine root system allows sand dropseed to extract water from depths of up to 12 inches. During periods of summer drought, sand dropseed leaves roll up to reduce surface area and evapotranspiration.

This species spreads naturally from seed once established and increases on depleted rangelands and wastelands. Sand dropseed plants are able to withstand heavy use due to their protected root crown and late maturity and because they are less preferred than other species. Plants can be killed by overgrazing as a result of continued close cropping; however, when grazed properly, sand dropseed increases on sites with poor conditions.

Green and purple seedhead
A slightly sparser grassland habitat featuring sand dropseed
Bunchy growth habit in situ in a relatively rocky and barren landscape
Delicately branched panicle with purple-tinged seeds
A reddish-purple seed spikelet
Grassland habitat
Bowing stalks of sand dropseed
Close up of collected seeds, which comprise a small brown seed with a translucent husk

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (westernsare.org; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer.