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Stylo, Fine stem
(Stylosanthes hippocampoides)
formerly S. guianensis var. intermedia

  • for subtropical regions
  • cold-tolerant
  • free-draining soils
  • thrives under heavy grazing.

Fine stem stylo is recommended for light, well-drained soils in the frosty subtropics with annual rainfall of 700-1,100 mm. It has been very successful on free-draining infertile granitic soils in the Burnett region of south-eastern Queensland.

Fine stem is easily establised by oversowing on these sandy-surfaced soils, and although a specific inoculant is recommended, it seems to be rarely used as the plants do nodulate eventually.

Fine stem has small pointed leaves on fine stems covered with sparse fine hairs about 3 mm long. Its buried crown protects the plant from fire, frost and heavy grazing, making it well suited to extensive management.

Fine stem stylo has an extended flowering period, producing a new flower, and hence a new seed, each day from September to May, with peaks of production in December-January and April-May. Unless irrigated early in the season, the lack of height in the plant by December makes mechanical harvest difficult; however, even heavily grazed plants continue to flower over a long period, and the seed is spread through stock.

Fine stem is quite palatable and tends to be grazed heavily; this often puts excessive pressure on the associated native grasses leading to patches of pure legume and subsequent weed invasion. Fine stem has not been affected by anthracnose.

There is only one type of fine stem; this is sometimes referred to as Oxley after an early selection programme, but would more accurately be called `common'.

Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 07 April 1998  Revised: 15 January 2003

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