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Stylo, Caribbean
(Stylosanthes hamata)

  • short-lived perennial legume
  • drought tolerant for hot, dry tropics
  • for well-drained soils
  • tolerates low fertility
  • tolerates heavy grazing,
  • moderate resistance to anthracnose.

Stylosanthes hamata (L) Taub. -
1 habit flowering and fruiting branch; 2 fruit with axis rudiment.


Caribbean stylo grows well in the hot tropics and warmer subtropics with 600-1,700 mm rainfall over a growing season of 15-25 weeks; it is susceptible to frost.

Caribbean stylo is adapted to a wide range of infertile, sandy-surfaced and well-drained soils. It can be planted with sown grasses in a seed bed with superphosphate, but is generally oversown into native pasture after a burn with minimal fertiliser and in a mixture with shrubby stylos.

Scarified seed is oversown in November-December just before the wet season.

The first cultivar released was Verano. Verano stylo can grow to 75 cm, but develops a flat crown under heavy grazing.

Verano produces a lot of seed at almost any time of the year even under grazing, although the main seeding is in early autumn. If allowed to seed without grazing, it tends to behave as an annual, but 30-40% of plants will perennate under grazing, and continue to grow into the dry season after flowering.

The flowering spike of Verano produces two seeds, one with a hook about 3-5 mm long, the other hookless.

It generally behaves as a weak biennial, regenerating well from reserves of seed in the soil in the next wet season, and can thus survive fires which kill the parent plant.

Verano is not shade-tolerant.

Verano has moderate field resistance to anthracnose although it can be affected if rain falls at flowering in March-April.

Amiga has been released recently. Amiga is claimed to grow better in colder and higher altitude sites, to cope better in regions with less than 760 mm rainfall, and to persist longer as a perennial. Its anthracnose resistance is similar to that of Verano.

Verano and Amiga are often sown as a mixture, along with shrubby stylo seed.

In colder regions and on heavier soils, the Caribbean stylos have been replaced by the Caatinga stylos.

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

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