Caatinga stylo

Scientific name(s)
Stylosanthes seabrana


  • Perennial (2-4 years) good seeder
  • Grows on heavy clay and loam soils
  • Drought tolerant
  • Grows in tropics and sub-tropics
  • High quality grazing value, suitable for hay
  • Tolerates heavy grazing in a mixed pasture
  • Anthracnose resistant.


  • Frost sensitive, drops leaves
  • Rhizobium requirements uncertain and difficult to maintain
    alive with high soil temperatures with surface sowing
  • No growth and loses leaf in winter
  • Seasonal flooded areas.

Plant description

Plant: Erect, branching, green bushy, 40-70 cm tall (varies with soil and rainfall); (intermediate between S. scabra and S. hamata)

Stems: Fine palatable stems, woody base, cv. Unica has greenish stems and cv. Primar has reddish stems when mature

Leaves: Tri-foliate, lanceolate, smooth, some bristles on lower midrib, veins prominent and whitish on undersidemature

Flowers: Yellow, small, ‘pea’ type (cv. Primar flowers earlier than cv. Unica, especially in the first year)

Pods: 2-segmented, upper seed only has small beak 2-3mm, 4-5mm long, lower seed 2-3mm

Seeds: 1.5mm long, light brown-cream colour, 450,000 podded seed/kg and 690,000 dehulled seeds/kg.

Pasture type and use

Mixed grass/legume grazing pasture or summer ley pasture on clay cropping soils, requires grazing management to maintain a mixed pasture, suitable for making high quality hay.

Where it grows

500-1000 mm.

Drained medium to heavy textured soils, clay loams to cracking heavy clays, neutral to alkaline soils, responds to higher fertility.

Prefers tropical temperatures, survives light frosts (-80 C) although drops leaves and tops may be killed.


Companion species
Sown alone or mixed grass pasture – Floren bluegrass, Strickland fingergrass, NuCal™ guinea grass mix, Bambatsi panic, buffel grass, sabigrass, Queensland bluegrass; Legumes – Marc Desmanthus.hamata)

Sowing/planting rates as single species
2-4 kg/ha, germinable seed, treatment (scarification) for hard seed may be required, shallow or surface planting recommended.
IMPORTANT – If using coated seed, sowing rates need to be adjusted to allow for the weight of the seed coat.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures
0.5-3 kg/ha (hard seed treatment) varies with companion species.
IMPORTANT – If using coated seed, sowing rates need to be adjusted to allow for the weight of the seed coat.

Sowing time
October to March, depending on rainfall and heatwave conditions. An early sowing time allows a longer establishment season before winter.

Specific Caati nga stylo rhizobium (CB3481 current recommendation).

Responds to phosphorus (10-20 kg/ha); zinc, sulphur and molybdenum may be required on heavy clays.


Maintenance fertiliser
Superphosphate (10-20 kg P /ha) depending on soil fertility.

Tolerates heavy grazing when established, early summer grazing favours the stylo while green grass is selected; stylo is selected with late summer grazing; can be cut making good quality hay.

Ability to spread
Early summer grazing promotes spread by reducing grass competition.

Weed potential
Early summer grazing promotes spread by reducing grass competition.

Major pests
No insect problems under grazing.

Major diseases
No disease problems under grazing, seed crops in humid environments may have anthracnose and botrytis problems.

Herbicide susceptibility
Seedlings have some susceptibility to 2,4-D products, while established plants have a small degree of tolerance, suspected susceptibility to trifluralin.

Animal production

Feeding value
High quality; 23% CP, 0.22% P and 22% ADF in the leaf, 11% CP, 0.17% P, and 38% ADF in the stem of terminal shoots.

Highly palatable as maturing and dry, lower palatability when young and green.

Production potential
3 t dry matter/ha, liveweight gain of 0.6 kg/hd/day for 10 months of the year in a mixed grass pasture, 100 kg beef/ha/year.

Livestock disorders/toxicity
None known.