Annual Broomweed

Here in the Cross Timbers of North Central Texas, the native forb Annual Broomweed (Amphiachyris dracunculoides) increases dramatically every 3 or 4 years, especially during drought periods. (Currently, we need 25″ of precipitation to “get out of the drought”.)  Broomweed is usually found in pastures and prairies that are heavily grazed and never rested, overgrazed in any capacity, in areas suppressed of fire, and always a combination of the aforementioned factors. Because Annual Broomweed is an annual (germinates, matures, flowers, sets seed, and dies in one growing season) the extent of individual plant numbers vary from year to year.  It will always be found in pastures that are continuously grazed and never rested. Pastures must be allowed to rest for at least one growing season following each drought, fire, heavy grazing, or any other major disturbance event, otherwise Broomweed will stick around, further decreasing grass coverage.

This land in and its plants did not evolve under a constant pressure of continuous fenced-in, year round grazing, so trying to force the land to fit that economy-based mindset will always create financial and ecological headaches.

Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) in the background amongst a Broomweed-choked pasture.
Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) in the background amongst a Broomweed community.  Montague Co., TX

This midgrass prairie region of the Southern Great Plains can be an excellent producer of Little Bluestem as long as the land is grazed properly, prescribed or controlled burns are used regularly, and periods of rest are allowed.  After all, it is the dominant grass here in these sandy soils, followed by Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), and Sand Dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus).

photo (2)
Under proper grazing management, stocking rates that change seasonally, intermittent use of rest periods, and periodic use of prescribed fire, Little Bluestem can dominate a site as pictured. Clay Co., TX

Author: J. Crumpler

Grasslands ecologist. Native seedsman.

All civil comments welcome.

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