Tanglehead in South Texas – Changes and Challenges


The so-called “invasion” of Tanglehead grass is a symptom of cattle removals on South Texas rangeland. This excellent article contains insights and facts that point to this.

The facts:

  • Tanglehead is a native grass.
  • Tanglehead was not ‘invasive’ so long as the ranges were being grazed.
  • With reduced grazing, it outgrows other native grasses.
  • Stated differently, Tanglehead is rest-tolerant.
  • Burning Tanglehead stimulates it relative to other grasses.
  • Stated differently, Tanglehead is fire-tolerant.
  • There is no shortage of native grass seed in Tanglehead-dominated areas.

So long as the primary influences on the range are rest and fire, isn’t it logical that rest-tolerant, fire-tolerant plants will take over?

The Tanglehead “invasion” is a symptom. The root cause is how we manage rangeland. Instead of treating symptoms by burning ranges, let’s address the root cause with planned grazing of livestock designed to mimic the periodic, intensive animal impact of large herds of migratory grazers like bison. It’s common sense that after 20-million years of evolving together, South Texas plants need such animals as much as those animals need their plants.

Note: This article appeared in the April 2017 edition of Texas Wildlife Magazine, and is used with TWA’s permission.

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