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Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis – Prairie Dropseed

“Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis, is a warm season grass native to the tallgrass and mixed grass prairies of central North America that is also a popular low-maintenance ornamental landscape plant in zones 3 to 9. Found mainly on the Great Plains from Texas north to southern Saskatchewan, this long-lived perennial clump-forming grass also occurs less commonly in certain habitats in scattered pockets in the eastern Midwest and Northeast to Quebec. It is native to about the southern half of Wisconsin. It was was named a Plant of Merit by the Missouri Botanical Garden in 2005 and was selected as the Wisconsin Nursery and Landscape Association’s herbaceous perennial of the year 2018.” (Wisconsin Horticulture)


Additional information


6-Pack, 9-Pack, Single

Common Name

Prairie Dropseed


Ornamental grass



Native Range

North America


3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Height Range (ft.)

2.00 to 3.00

Spread (ft.)

2.00 to 3.00

Bloom Time

August, October, September

Bloom Description

Brown-Tinted, Pink


Full Sun


Dry, Medium



Suggested Use

Groundcover, Naturalize, Rain Garden


Air Pollution, Black Walnut, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Erosion, Shallow-Rocky Soil





Winter Interest

Product Description

Sporobolus Heterolepis Botany By Dr. John Hilty

Grass family (Poaceae)

1424 original - Sporobolus heterolepis - Prairie Dropseed


“The preference is full sun, mesic to dry conditions, and soil that is loamy, rocky, or gravelly. Because the seeds are difficult to germinate, it is easier to propagate this grass by dividing the dense tufts of leaves. Once it becomes established at a suitable site, Prairie Dropseed is long-lived.” (Hilty)

Faunal Associations:

“Occasionally, the foliage is eaten by grasshoppers, including Mermiria bivitatta (Two-Striped Slant-faced Grasshopper) and Syrbula admirabilis (Handsome Grasshopper). Prairie Dropseed is the obligate host of two uncommon leafhoppers: Aflexia rubranura (Red-Tailed Leafhopper) and the recently described Memnonia panzeri. The seeds are eaten by sparrows and other granivorous songbirds from late summer into winter; these species include the Field Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, and Slate-Colored Junco. The foliage is readily eaten by bison, cattle, and horses. Sometimes voles and other small rodents dig burrows within the dense tufts of leaves and root mass of this prairie grass.” (HIlty)


  1. Sporobolus heterolepis” By Great Lakes image collection, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Domain
  2. Sporobolus heterolepis Wisconsin Strain” By BotBln – Own work, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0,
  3. Sporobolus heterolepis – Denver Botanic Gardens” By Daderot – Self-photographed, Public Domain,
  4. “Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)” by wackybadger is licensed under CC BY 2.0


  • Description: “Prairie Dropseed, <em>Sporobolus Heterolepis</Em>.” Wisconsin Horticulture, Accessed 1 Feb. 2022.
  • John Hilty Botany, Cultivation, Faunal Associations: John Hilty, Prairie Dropseed, Illinois Wildflowers, Copyright 2004-2019, Accessed 1 February 2022
  • Botanical Illustration: Hitchcock, A.S. (rev. A. Chase). 1/1/1950 USDA, NRCS. 2022. PLANTS Database (, 02/01/2022). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA

  • Information and images compiled by Erik N. Vegeto

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    Creative Commons will not be liable to You or any party on any legal theory for any damages whatsoever, including without limitation any general, special, incidental or consequential damages arising in connection to this license.


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