Animal feed resources information system

Crimson bluestem (Schizachyrium sanguineum)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Crimson bluestem, crimson false bluestem, red autumn grass [English]; pasto popotillo, popotillo hirsuto [Spanish]; rooiherfsgras, rooidekgras [Afrikaans]; gadega [Busa]; jan datse, kyaure [Hausa]; hutarda [Bisa]; uonga [Grusi-Kasena]; yantaare, yantaaje [Fula-Fulfulde]; pasi [Yoruba] (Quattrocchi, 2006; Burkill, 1985)


Schizachyrium hirtiflorum Nees, Andropogon hirtiflorus (Nees) Kunth

Related feed(s) 

Crimson bluestem (Schizachyrium sanguineum (Retz.) Alston) is a tropical grass used for pasture


Schizachyrium sanguineum is a perennial grass. It is robust, tufted erect or creeping, sometimes shortly rhizomatous (Quattrocchi, 2006; Hitchcock et al., 1951). Its erect culms can reach 60-120 (-300) cm in height (Quattrocchi, 2006; Clayton et al., 2006). Culms are reddish in colour, sparingly branching at the upper nodes. The leaf blades are flat linear, acute, 6-30 cm long, 2-4 mm wide. The inflorescence is racemose, 6-10 cm long, the base included in the somewhat dilated sheath (Hitchcock et al., 1951). There are two types of spikelets: sessile spikelets about 6 mm long, the awn 10-15 mm long, pedicellated spikelets much reduced (Quattrocchi, 2006; Hitchcock et al., 1951). The pedicels and first glumes of sessile spikelets are hairy, red in colour. The rachis is straight and glabrous (Quattrocchi, 2006; Hitchcock et al., 1951). The latin name of the genus,"schizachyrium" is derived from ancient Greek "schizein" and "achyron" meaning "splitting chaff".


Crimson bluestem is mainly used as fodder: it provides good pasture when young. It can also be used for thatching and matting (Odinma et al., 2013; Quattrocchi, 2006).


Schizachyrium sanguineum is native to the American continent but it can be found in most tropical areas worldwide (USDA, 2016). It is found in open grassland, cerrado or open bushland. It can grow on sandy places and stony hillsides, near streams, wet stream sides, and riverbanks (Quattrocchi, 2006). In Côte d'Ivoire, Crimson bluestem is found on sandy soils of savannahs and is more frequent on slopes. In such areas, it was removed by heavy grazing and could not grow in places where the humic status of soil was poor (Cesar, 1975).

Forage management 

Schizachyrium sanguineum is sensitive to heavy grazing. In West Africa, increasing cattle grazing significantly reduced it and farmers could not use it for roof thatching as they were used to (Azarya et al., 1999).

Environmental impact 

Lehmann love grass competition

In Chihuahua, Mexico, Schizachyrium sanguineum was removed from rangelands, in 20 years, when Lehmann lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmannia) was sown at a distance of 3000-4500 m (Sanchez Muñoz, 2009).

Fire sensitivity

The seeds are sensitive to fire. In native pastures where fire occurs, Schizachyrium sanguineum progressively disappears (Musso et al., 2014).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Schizachyrium sanguineum has a rather low protein content (2-8% DM) and a high fibre content (crude fibre > 30% DM).


Information about Schizachyrium sanguineum is scarce. It is generally considered as a good native forage (Skerman et al., 1990) able to provide good fodder for cattle at all times, especially during the wet season, or in areas where it grows near streams and remains green (Burkill, 1985). In the Eastern Llanos of Colombia, it was more available in well-drained native pastures where it could provide about 180 kg DM/ha and was among the most palatable native species (Hoyos et al., 1988). However, under some unspecified conditions, cattle are recorded as refusing it, even as tender young growth (Burkill, 1985).


Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 36.3 6.8 26.0 50.3 33  
Crude protein % DM 4.9 1.5 2.2 8.6 34  
Crude fibre % DM 39.0 3.2 33.0 45.4 31  
NDF % DM 74.0         *
ADF % DM 45.3         *
Lignin % DM 6.5         *
Ether extract % DM 1.7 0.6 0.8 3.4 34  
Ash % DM 8.9 2.4 4.2 13.3 33  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.0         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 3.8 0.7 2.8 5.0 33  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.0 0.4 0.5 2.0 33  
Potassium g/kg DM 11.0 3.2 5.5 18.3 34  
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.2 0.3 1.6 2.8 33  
Manganese mg/kg DM 300   162 438 2  
Zinc mg/kg DM 13   12 15 2  
Copper mg/kg DM 3   2 3 2  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 57.0         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 54.5         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.8         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.0         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991

Last updated on 18/09/2016 12:58:48

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., 2016. Crimson bluestem (Schizachyrium sanguineum). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/746 Last updated on September 18, 2016, 13:00