D. eriantha Steud. var. stolonifera Stapf.
A densely-tufted perennial that is strongly stoloniferous,
the numerous runners shooting at all the nodes and rooting from some or
all of them. Culms up to 120 cm high, simple or branched at the base, straight
or bent at the nodes. Lowest leaf-sheaths densely hairy at the base, the
lower with long fine hairs, the upper almost glabrous. Leaf-blades glabrous
or hairy, up to 30 cm long and 6 mm wide; expanded, but often much less;
ligule up to 5 mm long. Three to 14 racemes, up to 18 cm long, arranged
digitately or on a central axis up to 3 cm long; spikelets 3-3.5 mm long,
fairly conspicuously hairy (Chippendall, 1955).
Widely distributed in southern Africa. Introduced in India,
Australia and other countries.
Season of growth
It occurs at altitudes of 450-1 100 m in Zimbabwe.
In Zimbabwe it occurs with Eragrostis rigidior, Brachiaria
nigropedata, Cenchrus ciliaris, Schmidtia bulbosa, Panicum maximum, Urochloa
spp. and Heteropogon contortus in the 380-640 mm annual rainfall regime
with summer dominance (Barnes, 1972).
It can tolerate drought well.
It occurs on fertile clay in its natural habitat but can adapt
to a wide range of soils, including granite sands (Rattray, 1960b).
It rarely sets seed, and so is propagated by stolons (Bor,
Response to defoliation
It is very resistant to heavy grazing and possesses exceptional
powers of recuperation (Bor, 1960).
Suitability for hay and
It makes excellent hay (Bor, 1960).
It becomes frosted and brown when exposed to cold but retains
its nutritive value.
Ability to compete with
Good, its rapid ground cover quickly suppresses weeds.
Not very palatable during the grazing season, but eaten readily
in autumn. Maintains palatability and nutritive value into winter.
Response to photoperiod
It flowered in 79-96 days at 14 hours and 138-151 days at 11
hours daylight (Degras, Mathurin & Félicité, 1974).Ð
In dry-land areas on fertile clay.
Genetics and reproduction
2n=18, 27, 35, 36, 45, 54 (Fedorov, 1974). It is cross pollinated.
It is a constituent of woodland savannah in Zimbabwe where
cattle ranching is practised. Cattle weights increase through June and
July and reach their peaks in September. Carrying capacity is about one
beast per ten hectares (Rattray, 1960b).
Over a period of 12 months, cattle grazing on three strains
of Digitaria pentzii produced more live-weight gain on a per- hectare basis
than comparable cattle grazing pangola grass (D. decumbens). Cattle grazing
on D. pentzii CQ 911 produced twice as much as those on pangola, and continued
to gain throughout the colder part of the year (May to September). The
gains were positively correlated with the content of sown species, the
bulk density of the species and the greenness of the species (Peake, Strickland
& Hacker, 1976).
Peake, Strickland & Hacker, 1976.
Value for erosion control
It is good for stabilizing soil and improving structure (Göhl,
1975), but has to be established vegetatively.