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Alkali Sacaton
Sporobolus airoides
About Alkali Sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) Nurseries Show All Photos Alkali Sacaton (Sporobolus airoides) is a native grass that grows in southern and central California. It is found near the coast, in the foothills, in the central valley, and in the desert mountains, but typically in locations where there is somewhat more moisture. Early settlers viewed it as an indicator of underground water. It is especially noted for its ability to tolerate alkaline soils. It is moderately fast growing and moderately long-lived. It grows in an upright form to a height of 3 feet, with active growth during the spring and summer. Flowers are yellow and bloom in the mid summer. Leaves are medium green and deciduous. It tends to grow in moist but not saturated places, at elevations from 0-6,900 feet.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3 - 4 ft (0.9 - 1.2 m)

Max. Width
2 ft (0.6 m)

Upright, Fountain


Growth Rate

Winter Deciduous

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Found in generally arid landscapes where there is underground moisture, including alkaline sinks, playas, edges of vernal pools or seasonal drainages


Elevation ?
-271' - 7712'

Annual Precip. ?
1.9" - 29.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.73"

Coldest Month ?
27.7° F - 61.6° F

Hottest Month ?
57.6° F - 90.7° F

Humidity ?
1.13 vpd - 49.06 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
7.0 - 9.0

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Sodic Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 7*, 8*, 9*, 10*, 11*, 12*, 13*, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Use with other moisture loving or alkali-tolerant plants such as Saltbush (Atriplex sp.), Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa), Rush (Juncus sp.), Evening PrimRose (Oenothera elata), and Antelope Bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata)

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
1x/month, 2x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Dormant plants may be cut back

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Soak in 1% ( 2% okay) potassium nitrate for 24 hrs.; sowing wet gives slightly better results than air drying 1-3 days first. Germinate at high diurnal fluctuation, room temperature ( 70.5° to 78.8°) and 91.4°P (Anonymous 1944). No treatment. but using the high diurnal fluctua- tion (60.8° to 75.2°) and 95°P may also give good results [Toole 1941); for fresh seeds 2 wks. stratification first may improve germination (Toole 1941). No treatment. if sown outdoors in southern California during July or August may give good germination.

Common uses
Groundcovers, Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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