Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
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Fine stem stylo

Scientific name(s)

Stylosanthes guianensis  var. intermedia



Plant description

Plant: Perennial, low growing legume that has a well developed crown with buds above and below ground. 

Stems:  Fine, many branched and covered with bristles.

Leaves: Trifoliate with narrow pale to dark green leaflets usually with no hair on the upper surface but with a few hairs on the underside.

Flowers: Small and bright yellow in groups of 4 to 20.

Pods: Light brown, flattened, 1 seed per pod with a small coiled beak.

Seeds: Kidney shaped yellowish-brown, 770000 seeds (dehulled) per kg or 380000 seeds in pod/kg.

Pasture type and use

Used in native and planted perennial grass pasture.

Where it grows


600 to 800mm AAR.


Sands and sandy loams.


Optimum for growth is about 30oC.  Crowns of established plants have survived at -10oC.


Companion species

Grasses: Black spear grass, Indian bluegrass, Premier digit grass.

Legumes: Round-leaf cassia

Sowing/planting rates as single species

Not usually planted as a single species in pastures. Planting rate for seed crops is 4 to 5 kg/ha of scarified seed.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

1 to 2 kg/ha

Sowing time

Spring and summer


Rhizobium strain CB 82


Grows on low P soils but responds to added phosphorus.


Maintenance fertliser

Not normally used.


Regular grazing of associated grasses favours fine stem stylo and is necessary to stop grass dominance.   It can be grazed heavily over summer but a short rest period in February/March helps seed production and longevity in the pasture.  Continuous heavy grazing can reduce cover and allow weeds to invade and can lead to erosion.

Seed production

Seed production is high but ripening occurs over a long period and it shatters easily.  Yields from mechanical harvesting range from 100 to 400 kg/ha.  Suction harvesting can give higher seed yields.

Ability to spread

Produces high seed yields and is spread through surface movement ingestion and movement of livestock.

Weed potential

Very limited.  In pastures it is well grazed and in disturbed areas other (larger) plants are likely to be dominant.

Major pests

No serious pests.

Major diseases

Anthracnose, little-leaf and head blight can infect fine stem stylo but are of little consequence in a grass-legume pasture.

Herbicide susceptibility

Susceptible to some broad-leaf herbicides but tolerant of 2,4-D, 2,4-DB, Basagran and Blazer.

Animal production

Feeding value

High protein forage because of its fine stem and long growing season.  It can regrow rapidly after grazing and growth can extend into cooler months.


Very palatable.

Production potential

Forage yields in pasture are generally low but can be up to 2 tonne/ha where legume density is high.   Steer liveweight gain can be increased by 50 to 80 kg/head/year with high gains extending further into the cooler months than for other tropical grass-legume pastures.

Livestock disorders/toxicity

None known

Further information

Tropical Forages database (SoFT) - Fine stem stylo



Author and date

Bob Clem  

January 2009