Seed collected from MPF’s Stilwell Prairie. Photo: Scott Lenharth

Rough Dropseed (Sporobolus compositus)

Distinguishing Characteristics

Leaves 20- to 36-inches long, tapering to a thread-like tip less than 1/4-inch wide, commonly with enrolled margins and often hairy at the base; scalelike collar (ligule) barely visible, with tufts of long hairs.


To 4 feet




Plants forming small clumps with few leaf blades scattered along slender stems. Flowers are densely packed at the top of the stem along a terminal stalk up to 15 inches long. Much shorter lateral spikes are found wrapped in the leaf sheath below the long spike.


Commonly found throughout the Ozarks and prairie regions of Missouri on dry prairies, glades and open woodlands. Rarely used in seeding mixes but would be a good species to include on drier sites. It often colonizes glades and dry savannas after restoration work has been completed. Rough dropseed provides good wildlife cover throughout the year.

small tan seeds next to ruler showing size.

Seeds (scale is in 1/16 inch increments)

small green seedling


Sall green plant with opp leaves


Sall green plant with opp leaves

Distinguishing Characteristics

Sall green plant with opp leaves