Esparto (Stipa tenacísima)

In the past, it was widely used for the manufacture of cheese straps, serones, baskets, baskets,… It grows in poor soils, between canchos and scrubland. In our locality we can still find places where we can collect to make some utensils.



Perennial herbaceous plant (more than 1 m high), which forms a very dense clump (set of stems or spikes that arise from the same foot). The leaves are surrounded by a hardened sheath that often has a cottony margin. They are rough on the underside (due to the large amount of silica present in the epidermis), narrow (up to 5 mm wide) and long. The leaves roll up on themselves. The flowering stems are strong and rigid (up to 1.5 m high) and group the flowers in spikes called panicles (15 to 60 cm), dense and with clusters of hairs on the nodes of the midrib. Numerous smaller spikelets (up to 8 cm) also appear on thick, hair-covered twigs. The fruit is dry (up to 10 mm) and stone-shaped.


It grows in dry soils on poor, limestone and gypsiferous soils, where it forms perennial pastures of medium and low mountains. It grows from almost sea level up to 1,500 meters above sea level. It forms habitats called espartales or atochares. It is very tolerant to drought and high temperatures. It is abundant in semi-arid areas, where annual rainfall is less than 350 mm. It does not tolerate excessive watering and waterlogged soils. It is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa.


It is a species that, although it also reproduces by seeds (thanks to anemophilous pollination and dispersal of the fruit by wind), it propagates more intensively vegetatively thanks to the rhizome or the buds on the stem nodes. In this way, from each rhizome or node, new stems emerge that, although they look like new individuals, are the same specimen. Many times, when you see a spartal, it is only a few highly branched individuals. The usual way to find it is by forming dense clumps with a common rhizome. It flowers and fruits in spring, between March and May.