African lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula): Introduction, Classification, Origin, Distribution, Description, and, Uses
The Poaceae family includes the plant Eragrostis curvula (Schrad.) Nees (1841). Cynodon, Sporobolus, and Spartina are among the genera that are closely related. Eragrostis has about 300 recognized species worldwide, mostly in tropical and subtropical areas (Stanley and Ross 1989; Harden 1993). Australia has 69 species of Eragrostis, 52 of which are native, and the rest are introduced (Harden 1993). Queensland has 60 species, 22 of which are found in southeast Queensland, and 7 are introduced (Stanley and Ross 1989). (Hnatinuk 1990). African lovegrass seems to prefer disturbed areas in Australia, particularly along roadsides and pastures that have been overgrazed for a while. It is typically found in abundance in sandy riverbanks and beach dunes and is typically associated with lightly textured (sandy) soil types, particularly granitic sands. It thrives in some locations on rich, acidic red soils. High seed production, rapid seedling growth, and drought tolerance are all desirable traits in a pasture plant, but some strains’ poor taste makes them weedy. It has been planted all over Australia to preserve soil and improve pasture.
Species: E. curvula
Scientific Name: Eragrostis curvula
Common Name(s): African lovegrass, Blue lovegrass, Weeping lovegrass, Weeping grass, Wire grass,
Southern Africa is the original home of African lovegrass. Before 1900, it was accidentally introduced to Australia as a seed contaminant. In the early 20th century, it was also planted as a pasture species after being purposefully imported more than 115 times for experimental evaluation. It was discovered to be spreading in the Tintinara-Coonalpyn region in the late 1970s, and the Pest Plants Act of 1975 designated it as an agricultural pest plant for the entirety of South Australia in 1985. On the Eyre Peninsula, it has become natural.
Many nations, including Argentina, Bolivia, Burma, Columbia, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Spain, and the United States, have seen the introduction of African lovegrass (Cox 1984; Holm et al. 1991; Lazarides 1997; Missouri Botanic Gardens 2003). The southern High Plains of Texas (McFarland and Mitchell 2000), Arizona (Bock et al. 1986), California (CalFlora 2002), the Brevard, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lake, Leon, Polk, and Washington counties of Florida (ISB 2002), Missouri (Missouri Botanic Gardens 2003), New Mexico (Missouri Botanic Gardens 2003), Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and along embankments as (DCR 1999).
1. African lovegrass is a perennial grass with thick tufts (Wand et al. 2001). It grows in a variety of ways, from erect to prostate, and reaches a height of 30 to 120 cm (Johnston and Cregan 1979; Parsons and Cuthbertson 2001). Particularly in American literature, it is frequently referred to as a “Bunchgrass.”
2. A well-known and distinctive characteristic of this grass is reported to be its drooping or weeping leaves. But in smaller specimens, where the leaf blades are often thin or sparse, this characteristic can be less noticeable.
3. Green to purple nodes can be found on stems that can be slender or robust. While typically erect, lower nodes can occasionally bend.
4. Dark to blue-green leaves can be found. The sheaths near the base of the leaf are often straw-colored or purplish, highly striate, and keeled. They are also occasionally silky hairy below. The ciliated rim of the ligules is hairy.
5. Leaf blades are slender, linear, typically curled or filiform, and scabrous (rough to the touch) extending down towards the base. They are 25–30 cm long and 3 mm wide. They curve as they grow longer and become tapered at the tips, which are typically bleached and curled (Muyt 2001). The grass appears to be “weeping” due to the arched leaves.
6. It is simple to spot scabrous leaf blades and sericeous basal sheaths in the field by gently separating the leaf blades at their bases and moving your fingertips along the leaf blades downward.
7. The plant continues to grow new stems and set seeds as long as the growing conditions are favorable after early summer flowering. From January to March, ripe seeds are present. Wintertime growth slows or stops, and the following spring, as the temperatures increase, it resumes.
8. The paniculate inflorescence is a feature of African lovegrass (the main axis gives rise to branches bearing the spikelets).
9. Seed heads start out looking dark and then turn a paler green as they mature. The varied inflorescence ranges in length from 6 to 30 cm, is loose or compact, and spreads out. The branches of the panicle are gently ascending, with the lower branches occasionally forming whorls and hairs in the axils.
10. Grey-green, linear-oblong, or linear-elliptic, 3- 10 mm long, 1- 1.5 mm wide, and bearing 4–13 florets are the characteristics of solitary spikelets. Long, acute, and glabrous glumes measure 1.5 to 2.5 mm. Lemma lengths range from 2-2.5 mm and are keeled. The lemma and palea are equivalent.
11. The ellipsoid, creamy to dark orange or brown, with 0.3-0.7 mm long seeds is shaped like these. There are 3.3–5.5 million seeds per kilogram of seeds.
12. The first 50 cm of soil is where you’ll mostly find the fibrous roots. African lovegrass exhibits the central dieback process, often known as the hollow crown phenomenon. Perennial tussock grasses have this morphological trait, which causes a dead centre to form over time (Dahl and Cotter 1984, in Wan and Sosebee 2000). Age causes clumps to thicken and get more fibrous (J Garton 2003, pers. comm., February). African lovegrass has a variety of morphologies, as was already mentioned.
However, several authors (De Winter 1990; Prendergast et al. 1986; Lazarides 1997; Muyt 2001; Eurobodalla Shire Council 2002) have noted several distinguishing characteristics, such as
• The absence of short, knotty rhizomes, the presence of which is relatively rare in the genus Eragrostis
• The absence of micro hairs on lower leaf surfaces
• Black coloration on young seed heads
• Prominent nodes
When young, African lovegrass is edible to sheep and cattle, but it quickly goes to seed and develops into a tough, unappealing closed tussock, especially when left ungrazed. In some less fertile, desert regions of Africa, the south-central United States, and Argentina, it is farmed as pasture (Silcock 2005). It is the most widely grown warm-season perennial grass in Argentina, and under strict care, it has improved animal output and boosted stocking rates 10-fold in west Texas (Cotter et al. 1983, Campbell et al. 1985). (Vera et al. 1972, in Campbell et al. 1985; Di Renzo et al. 2003). The most practical cultivar is the “console.” It has been promoted and utilized in Australia as a nematode break to save maize crops, as a tasty pasture plant, and to stop soil erosion (Silcock 2005). Compared to other varieties of the species, it is said to have a low weed potential and can even be utilized to control some weed species (Johnston et al. 1984; Robinson and Whalley 1991; Chan et al. 2001; Parsons and Cuthbertson 2001; Johnston 1989). There is a growing amount of research showing that, when managed appropriately, African lovegrass can produce useful pasture in sandy soil types and specific climates. Leigh and Davidson (1968) concluded that African lovegrass was equal to or superior to a variety of other introduced pasture species with rainfall between 500 mm and 750 mm, especially under drought conditions. This was based on a summary of Australian pasture evaluation trials carried out before 1968. In more recent years, Johnston et al. (2005) concluded that in southern Australia, palatable cultivars make good summer-active perennial pastures. African lovegrass is valued by certain landowners because it may supply livestock with food during times of drought (Johnston and Cregan 1979). However, due to the weeds’ slow winter development and the low nutrient concentrations during the warmer months, their value may be diminished (Farrington 1973). In Queensland, African lovegrass is no longer advised as a pasture plant (Silcock 2005).
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How did African love grass get to Australia?
Ans: African lovegrass is a green, closely tufted grass that is indigenous to southern Africa. It most likely arrived in Australia for the first time as a pasture seed contamination.
Question: Why is it called lovegrass?
Ans: Eragrostis is also referred to as canegrass or lovegrass. The Greek words eros, which means “love,” and agrostis, which means “grass,” are combined to form the genus’ name. Commonly used as cattle feed is lovegrass.
Question: How do you control love grass?
Ans: By Herbicides
Question: What eats African lovegrass?
Question: How does African lovegrass spread?
Ans: Seeds can be dispersed over short distances by wind, animals, machinery, cars, and hay, among other means.