Panicum repens L.

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Graminae

Common names

Torpedo grass (United States), cheno (India), limanota (Zambia), creeping panicum (Zimbabwe, Africa), panic rampant, muran (Iraq).

Description

A rhizomatous, creeping perennial, rooting at the base, 30-90 cm tall. Leaf-blades usually inrolled when dry, 5-15 cm long and 5-12 mm wide with scattered hairs on the upper surface. Inflorescence an open panicle 6-20 cm long, branches ascending, spikelets 3 mm long, acute and gaping at the tip. Fruit glossy white. Young shoots covered by leaf-sheaths (hence "torpedo grass").

Distribution

Malaysia, Africa, Sri Lanka, India, Burma, Thailand, United States.

Season of growth

Makes its main growth in summer.

Altitude range

Sea-level to 1 800 m.

Rainfall requirements

Adapted to areas with a winter rainfall, it will not survive hot dry seasons.

Drought tolerance

It tolerates drought, as the rhizomes remain alive in long dry periods.

Soil requirements

Generally found on sandy soils, but some strains grow on heavy clay. The soils are always wet and of alluvial origin. It is useful on copper-deficient soils.

Ability to spread naturally

It is aggressive and can be spread by ploughing.

Sowing methods

It is usually propagated by rhizomes. In India, is sown by seed.

Sowing depth and cover

Sow on the surface and roll or cover lightly.

Sowing time and rate

It is sown in summer at 11 kg/ha in Gujarat, India.

Vigour of growth and growth rhythm

It is sown at the end of January in Gujarat, flowers in May, and is cut green or allowed to ripen for seed.

Response to defoliation

Resistant to grazing and trampling, but rapidly becomes sod-bound.

Grazing management

It will stand heavy stocking, and can be renovated with a deep disc-harrowing when it becomes sod-bound.

Dry-matter and green-matter yields

It is usually not sown as a pasture, but one farmer in Taiwan claims it will produce 100 tonnes green matter per hectare per year under irrigation when top-dressed with 200 kg urea per hectare after each of five cuts per year (Manidool, personal communication). Yields fall off -after several years under unfavourable drought conditions (Thorp, 1979). At Gujarat, unirrigated, it yielded 2 096 kg green matter per hectare (Srinivasan, Bonde & Tejwani, 1962). At Laguna, Philippines, Furoc and Javier (1976) harvested 62 000 kg green matter per hectare from an irrigated, abandoned rice field.

Seed yield

1 300 kg grain per hectare in India (Solomon, 1953).

Main attributes

Its adaptation to wet conditions; its production and palatability when young.

Main deficiencies

It can become a serious weed of arable land and is difficult to eradicate (Thorp, 1979). It is a poor seed producer.

Frost tolerance

The leaves are easily killed by frost.

Response to light

It does not tolerate dense shade.

Ability to compete with weeds

It can invade other pastures and can become a weed along drainage ditches, where it becomes difficult to eradicate (Gilliland et al., 1971).

Palatability

It is extremely palatable and nutritious over a long growing season, but at the mature stage the old leaves tend to become tough (Thorp, 1979) and are neglected by stock.

Chemical analysis and digestibility

Göhl (1975) quotes analyses by Lim (1968); 28.3 percent dry matter, 24 percent crude protein, 22.6 percent crude fibre, 13.4 percent ash, 2.1 percent ether extract, 37.9 percent nitrogen-free extract in the dry matter of fresh material cut at four weeks in Malaysia.

Natural habitat

Lake shores, and seasonal and permanent swamps.

Tolerance to flooding

Panicum repens grows well even after several days in standing water. It is frequent on lake edges, edges of dams and in swamps throughout the tropics (Sayer & Lavieren, 1975).

Genetics and reproduction

2n=36, 40, 45 (Fedorov, 1974).

Seed production and harvesting

Seed production is poor. The ripe crop is cut into sheaves, dried, and the seed beaten out on boards in Gujarat.

Economics

It is a valuable pasture grass in a number of tropical countries and it provides feed in paddy areas, particularly for draught cattle and buffaloes. It is also cut by hand from roadsides and edges of paddy-fields to feed to dairy cattle. In Iraq it is an important grazing plant for swamp buffaloes.

Animal production

No figures have been cited.

Value for erosion control

It is a useful grass for binding coastal sands and lake shores. It is used to fix mine dumps in Zimbabwe (Chippendall & Crook, 1976). It was also used for stabilizing the steeper slopes of ponds (20-30°) in Zambia where cattle approach to drink water (Verboom & Brunt, 1970). In Gujarat, it proved to have the greatest root-binding capacity of several grasses, but gave poor above- ground yields (Srinivasan, Bonde & Tejwani, 1962).str

Tolerance to salinity

Very good; it occurs on saline sands in western Zambia (Verboom & Brunt, 1970).

Links:

Links for the genus:

  • Grass genera of the world: Information about botany, ecology etc. of the panicum genus; links to photographs of different species

Further reading

Furoc & Javier, 1976.