Better Pastures for the tropics - banner

Stylo, Common

(Stylosanthes guianensis)

Stylo - illustration  
  • perennial legume
  • for warm humid tropics
  • tolerant of poor soils
  • susceptible to anthracnose


Stylosanthes guianensis (Aublet) Swartz -
1 habit flowering and fruiting branch;
2 fruit.

While several common stylos (Schofield, Endeavour and Graham) were popular in the tropical lowlands, most of them proved susceptible to anthracnose fungus. Only seed of Cook may be available commercially now.

The common stylos are true tropicals, having poor cool-season growth, being easily frosted, and often flowering too late for the subtropics. Although suitable for wet tropical coastal districts, they are fairly drought-tolerant, and can survive a long dry spell in areas with as little as 900 mm rainfall.

Stylo is very tolerant of low fertility and acid soils.

Seed should be surface sown or planted no deeper than 10 mm without needing inoculation as seedlings nodulate with natural rhizobium strains.

Establishing stylos in weedy land is simplified because young stylo plants can tolerate hormone sprays, such as 2,4-D.

Common stylo is not very palatable, and is generally not eaten until autumn. Ungrazed plants can grow 1.5 m tall without much basal branching, and these tall stands can be thinned severely if burnt. Stylo does not tolerate shading.

The first commercial variety was Schofield; of the subsequent selections (Cook, Endeavour and Graham) only Cook is available now, having better field resistance to anthracnose.

Cook is higher yielding with better cool season growth than Schofield, and flowers 6-8 weeks earlier. It is the line most tolerant to waterlogging, has field tolerance to anthracnose, and has been planted in the areas from which Schofield was displaced.

Graham was a highly productive variety released to extend the range of stylo to areas with a shorter growing season. It is a heavy seeder and regenerates well under grazing. While it has persisted well under grazing even in central Queensland, anthracnose has devastated dense seed crops in the higher rainfall production areas, and little seed is available.


Creator: Ian Partridge
Date created: 14 April 1998  Revised:15 January 2003

Better Pastures home page