Woolly finger grass.
A robust, tufted, non-stoloniferous perennial with culms up
to 150 cm high, usually branched; lowest leaf-sheaths densely hairy at
the base, the leaves otherwise glabrous or with scattered tubercle-based
hairs on the lower sheaths, blades up to 60 cm long, 6-12 mm or more wide,
expanded; ligule 2-3.5 mm long; eight to ten, sometimes four to six racemes
up to 15 cm long, arranged digitately or, more often, alone or in whorls
on a central axis up to 7 cm long, the lower often divided and compound
in the lower half; spikelets 3.5-4 mm long, fairly conspicuously hairy
It occurs in the Transvaal, Orange Free State, northern Cape
Province and parts of the Kalahari thornveld in southern Africa. The species
was described from plants growing at Doornkloof, Field Marshal J.C. Smuts's
home at Irene in the Transvaal (Chippendall, 1955).
Season of growth
It is very drought resistant, surviving a severe drought at
Moree in north-west New South Wales (Darley, 1967).
It does well on sandy soils.
Ability to spread naturally
It spreads rapidly from stolons.
Land preparation for establishment
A well-prepared seed-bed is preferred, but root-stocks can
be established in a rough seed-bed.
Propagated by division of root-stocks or by seed.
Vigour of growth and growth
D. smutsii CPI16778A has excellent spring growth characteristics
Response to defoliation
It will stand heavy defoliation.
It will stand heavy grazing and can be managed by short- term
grazing at high stocking followed by top-dressing with nitrogen after grazing.
Dry-matter and green-matter
In Sri Lanka an annual yield of 21.46 t/ha DM was obtained
from a fully fertilized pasture (Pathirana & Siriwardene, 1973).
Its ability to spread rapidly; its tolerance to heavy grazing
and its response to fertilizers.
Its poor seed production.
Ability to compete with
It can compete successfully with weeds.
It is closely grazed at the Veterinary Research Farm at Entebbe
Uganda (van Rensburg, 1969).
Chemical analysis and
In mid-country Sri Lanka, analyses of D. smutsii at four weeks
showed 17.2 percent dry matter and 13.35 percent crude protein and at six
weeks 17.64 percent dry matter with 11.44 percent crude protein, when fully
fertilized with 140 kg N, 196 kg P2O5 and 252 kg K2O/ha (Pathirana &
It requires a balanced fertilizer as determined by soil tests.
It responds readily to nitrogen.
Genetics and reproduction
D. smutsii CPI16778A is almost completely sterile, but others,
e.g. CPI38869, are fertile. Hybridization is in progress (Hacker, 1976).
2n=18, 36 (Fedorov, 1974).
Seed production and harvesting
It does not produce much seed at Moree north-west New South
Wales (Darley, 1967).
Pathirana & Siriwardene, 1973.
Value for erosion control
It has been recommended for revegetating abandoned cropland
in southern Africa.