Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retz.) Trin.

Home

Graminae

Synonyms

Andropogon aciculatus Retz.

Common names

Mackie's pest, grass seed (Australia), love grass (Malaysia), manienieula (Hawaii), kase, seed grass (Fiji).

Description

A vigorous creeping grass with stout, tough rhizomes, the culms ascending to 45 cm. Inflorescence a small panicle, 7.5-10 cm long, with numerous slender branches. Spikelets narrow. Awn bristly, short and fine. The branches at first ascend almost vertically, spread obliquely at flowering and then bend upward again at fruiting. Each branch has three spikelets at its tip, one sessile and two pedicelled.

Distribution

Widely distributed in the tropics of Asia, Polynesia and Australia at low elevations.

Drought tolerance

It is fairly drought tolerant.

Soil requirements

Although occurring on neutral soils, it favours sandy acidic loams with pH 5.1-6.1. It prefers moist soils.

Response to defoliation

One of the few grasses which can stand heavy grazing in India (Bor, 1960). Under heavy grazing it replaced Arundinaria ciliata at Khon Kaen, Thailand (Robertson, Humphreys & Edwards, 1976).

Natural habitat

It is common on abandoned cultivations on poor sandy soils.

Genetics and reproduction

2n=20 (Fedorov, 1974).

Economics

An extremely common grass in village pasture in the plains of Asia because the prostrate, creeping stems resist overgrazing and trampling. Grazing animals suffer severely from the ripe fruits becoming attached to their hair by the sharp basal callus. By this means the fruit works its way into the flesh and causes extensive ulceration. Dogs frequently develop abscesses between the toes from the same cause, and germinating seeds of this grass can sometimes be pressed out of large bags of pus in the dog's flesh (Bor, 1960). Useful for rough lawns, forming a dense, hard-wearing turf, but a troublesome weed when uncontrolled because of the sharp-pointed seeds (Henty, 1969). A serious pest in north Queensland. The seeds work through clothing and cause irritating sores. It used to be used as a cover for coconut plantations in the Philippines, and in Guam the straw was used for making hats and mats. Probably represents the final stage in deterioration of the Phragmites/Saccharum/lmperata swamp grasslands in India (Dabadghao & Shankarnarayan, 1970).

Further reading

Dabadghao & Shankarnarayan, 1970.

Value for erosion control

Its creeping rhizome and its capacity to resist hard grazing makes it useful for stabilizing embankments and similar sites.