Makarikari grass (Australia), Makarikari panicum (southern
Cultivar Bambatsi is an erect, tussocky perennial, shortly
rhizomatous, seldom stoloniferous. Culms robust, glaucous, branching and
erect to a height of 1.5-1.8 m; nodes geniculate, slightly enlarged, leaf-blade
46 cm long and 13 mm wide in the prominent wide opaque midrib. Auricle
absent. Inflorescence a large, open, nodding panicle 25-33 cm long, rachis
grooved and partly flattened. Spikelets 2 mm long. Seed: the lemma and
palea closely invest the caryopsis; the "seed" is ovoid, 2.25 mm long,
smooth shiny, grey-black. About 95 percent of the population have the erect
habit, about 5 percent have the more spreading and stoloniferous habit
described for cv. Pollock (Barnard, 1972).
Collected from the Makarikari pan in Botswana. Introduced widely.
Season of growth
Sea-level to 2 000 m.
It fits into a 500-1 000 mm rainfall belt with a dominant summer
A reasonable degree of drought tolerance (Bott, 1978). In its
centre of origin it exists on flood plains receiving as little as 375 mm/year.
Adapted to self-mulching, high-fertility, black clay soils
where poor aeration conditions are common (Lloyd, 1970).
Ability to spread naturally
It will spread slowly from shattered seed and by stolons.
Land preparation for establishment
Prepare a good seed-bed with a 5 cm mulch if possible (Lloyd
& Scateni, 1968).
Drilling on the contours in small drill furrows at 1.5 cm with
fluted roller-press wheels following gives excellent stands (Wilson, 1978).
Seed may be broadcast and rolled in afterwards. Sow in rows 90 cm apart
for inter-row cultivation or 30-45 cm for irrigation.
Sowing depth and cover
Surface, to no deeper than 2 cm (Bogdan, 1964; Lloyd &
Sowing time and rate
Early or late wet season at 2-4 kg/ha. Midsummer seeding encourages
too much weed competition.
Number of seeds per kg.
962 000 ('Bambatsi', Queensland).
Tolerance to herbicides
P. coloratum showed good tolerance to atrazine when used as
a pre-emergence and post-emergence spray on black clay soils on the Darling
Downs, south-eastern Queensland up to 4 kg/ha (Scateni, 1978).
The seedlings have poor competitive ability (Bott, 1978) but
improve later (Lloyd, 1970).
Vigour of growth and growth
It grows rapidly during late spring and summer but is dormant
in winter (Lloyd, 1970).
Response to defoliation
It withstands heavy grazing when established, but graze lightly
for the first six months down to 7.5 cm when the first flower-head appears
(Lloyd & Scateni, 1968) to encourage tiller development.
It should be grazed lightly in its first year, but when established
can withstand heavy stocking. Spell during the summer and autumn if possible
to preserve green leaf for the winter.
Response to fire
It will survive annual fires.
Dry-matter and green-matter
Under experimental conditions it produces over 20 000 kg/ha
per year with a dressing of 650 kg N/ha per year (Lloyd, 1970).
Suitability for hay and
It makes useful hay in southern Africa with 9 percent crude
protein (59 percent digestible) and 60 percent total digestible nutrients
in the dry matter (Göhl, 1975). Medling (1972) made good silage in
plastic bags in Panama when 10 percent molasses was added.
Value as a standover or
It is excellent, as it bears green leaf throughout the winter.
No toxicity has been reported by Everist (1974).
Roe (1972) recorded 410 kg/ha by collecting shattered seed,
123 kg/ha by direct heading. Let the seed sweat in a 15-25 cm heap for
two days to ripen more seed, then dry seed thoroughly.
collected at Bambatsi Lake on the Marczamnyana or Nata River
in southern Zimbabwe. It is a dark-seeded, erect form that can be distinguished
from most other such forms by its superior seed set. The seed ripens unevenly
and shatters readily. Tolerates flooding. It is slow to establish. It is
the most frost- tolerant cultivar.
derived from seed from the Department of Agriculture in
South Africa. It differs from 'Bambatsi' in habit and growth. It is a leafy,
ascending type, stoloniferous from the lowermost three to four nodes; strongly
tussocky. Leaves smaller than 'Bambatsi', with leaf-blade 30-28 cm long,
9 mm wide. Inflorescence denser than 'Bambatsi', but still with lowermost
branch solitary. In spaced swards it develops crowns 90-180 cm in diameter,
useful where soil conservation is needed and waterlogging occurs. It is
palatable, more frost-tolerant than 'Bambatsi' if grazed heavily in the
autumn. It ripens unevenly, as does 'Bambatsi', and shatters heavily. Seed
yield is only about half that of 'Bambatsi'.
derived from seed from Botswana in 1954. A tall, tussocky,
semi- erect type with greater ability to spread from the lower nodes than
'Bambatsi'. In this respect it is intermediate between 'Bambatsi' and Pollock,
having about half the characteristics of each of the others. Leaves large
like 'Bambatsi'. Seed dark like 'Bambatsi', has shown some frost tolerance,
winter growth is slow but new tillers are produced then, if moisture is
available. Its seed also ripens unevenly and shatters badly (Barnard, 1972).
selected at Henderson Research Station near Harare, Zimbabwe.
Is drought tolerant (Chippendall & Crook, 1976).
like 'Bambatsi' but produces little seed.
produces runners rooting at the nodes.
similar to 'Thilo'. These latter three produce little seed
(Whyte, Moir & Cooper, 1959).
introduced as 'CPI 16797' to Australia. At Westwood in the
Fitzroy Basin, central subcoastal Queensland, P. coloratum var. kabulabula
established well on the alluvial soils and exhibited excellent seedling
vigour. It also grew well with the legume Macroptilium atropurpureum on
a red-brown prairie-like (clay 27-41 percent) ridge soil (Hall, 1970).
Panicum coloratum var. kabulabula Codd
The ability of the cultivars to grow on heavy, self-mulching,
black clay soils.
Uneven seed set and seed shattering, and lack of winter production.
Optimum temperature for
Minimum temperature for
It makes no growth during the winter.
Recovers better than green panic after winter. Cultivar Pollock
is quite frost tolerant, with 85 percent survival after the first winter
on the Darling Downs (Jones, 1969), but cv. Kabulabula is very susceptible
13.5-30.3°N and S (Russell & Webb, 1976).
Response to light
It prefers full sunlight.
Ability to compete with
Weed competition may be a problem early in its life because
of its slow establishment (Lloyd & Scateni, 1968).
Maximum germination and
quality required for sale
80 percent purity and 20 percent germination in Queensland.
Germinate at 20-35°C, moistened with water. Scarify seed.
It has no serious pests.
It is very palatable.
Chemical analysis and
Fresh, early bloom material contained 18.9 percent crude protein,
28.6 percent crude fibre, 11.0 percent ash, 2.6 percent ether extract and
38.9 percent nitrogen-free extract in the dry matter (Dougall & Bogdan,
Occurs in warm, dry bushveld in Africa
Tolerance to flooding
Stands waterlogged conditions extremely well (Bott, 1978).
In addition to basic phosphorus and potash where required,
it responds well to increasing nitrogen up to 900 kg/ha per year with a
20- 30 percent recovery in the tops (Lloyd, 1970).
Compatibility with other
grasses and legumes
It will combine well with lucerne (Medicago saliva).
Genetics and reproduction
It is cross-pollinated, with some lines being incompatible
(Hutchinson & Bashaw, 1964).
Seed production and harvesting
P. coloratum ripens over a long period, from the top to the
bottom of the seed-head, hence seed harvesting should be by repeated beater
or stripper harvesting rather than direct heading (Roe, 1972). It is desirable
to have a mixture of lines to ensure good seed setting (Humphreys, 1975).
Harvest when one-third of the seed has shattered.
It is used increasingly for leys in Africa and Australia. On
the Darling Downs black clay soils of south-east Queensland, grazing P.
coloratum var. makarikariense cultivars at 7.5 sheep per hectare produced
more than 15.5 kg wool per hectare and live-weight gains averaged 29 percent.
Links for the genus:
genera of the world: Information about botany, ecology etc. of the panicum
genus; links to photographs of different species
Lloyd, 1970, 1971; Lloyd & Scateni, 1968.
The seed shows initial dormancy. The seed requires a ripening
period of six months after harvest.
Value for erosion control
Cultivar Pollock, because of its large crown development, is
useful in erosion control. Sown on terraces at Machakos, Kenya, P. coloratum
var. makarikariense did not prevent erosion (Thomas, 1975).
Tolerance to salinity
It is one of the better grasses to vegetate somewhat saline