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lovegrass ?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by rob m, May 2, 2001.

  1. rob m

    rob m LawnSite Member
    Messages: 11

    recently got a request to plant african weeping lovegrass on a fairly steep slope.i was under the impression it wasn't hardy here (zone 6) but the client showed me a site downtown that had it growing on an even steeper bank.the local ag supply had the seed in stock but didn't know much about it.any feedback?
  2. Lanelle

    Lanelle LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,361

    Do you know the Latin botanical name for it? That will be the surest way for everyone to give accurate advice.
  3. KirbysLawn

    KirbysLawn Millenium Member
    Messages: 3,485

    African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) [​IMG]

    African Lovegrass or Weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) is an introduced grass of generally low palatability. It has colonised many roadsides on lighter soils and can be an aggressive invader of native and sown pastures in many districts of south-east Queensland. Where there are limited amounts of the plant, its spread should be minimised using suitable management practices.

    African Lovegrass is a native of Tanzania in East Africa. It was introduced into Australia early this century as a contaminant in pasture seed. There are approximately thirty-seven lovegrass species of native and introduced origin present in Queensland. Some cultivars have been used as pasture species, for erosion control in waterways and as a nematode break in maize crops with the most well known cultivar being Consol. Consol however is from another sub-group of types and is quite different from the weedy types spreading in Queensland. The grass and some of it’s related species are grown as pastures in some less fertile and arid areas of Africa, south-central United States and Argentina. However intensive management is needed to obtain best production from the plant in regions where it is climatically adapted.

    African lovegrass is a mainly warm season perennial, growing 0.5m to 1.2m tall; stems are slender or robust and erect or weeping in habit. The leaf is thin and grows to 30cm long and is up to 0.3cm wide. The leaf is variable in colour from bluish to green and curls at the tip when dry. As the plant grows it forms a solid tussock with each stem having a round, straw-coloured base. As the plant ages the inner stems die off leaving dead un-productive stem and root material in the centre of the plant. Seeds are formed on a grey, much branched head and are 1.5 to 0.5mm in length in groups. The plant is mainly summer growing but in Queensland it will go to seed at any time of the year after rain providing temperatures are high enough. Autumn and spring growth is quite vigorous where moisture is available.

    The plant has been recorded in the pastoral districts of Leichhardt, Darling Downs, Burnett, Port Curtis, Wide Bay, Maranoa, Moreton and Warrego. It is most common in the uplands of the Great Dividing Range south of Gayndah but has potential to spread widely. It is found in many habitats and is becoming increasingly common on roadsides before spreading into grazing paddocks and abandoned cultivations. It can grow in lighter soils of low nutritional status with low phosphorus and in acid conditions. The seeds are spread by water, animals and as a contaminant in seed and soil. By far the most common means of spread in Queensland seems to be by roadside slashing, earthworks and motor vehicles.

    Problems caused by the plant
    African Lovegrass is palatable to stock when young but it soon runs to seed and forms a tough closed tussock. The leaf of the plant is very fibrous and difficult to for stock to digest once dry. In fact the leaf from the plant is used in weaving and basket making in Africa. The plant has a dense shallow root mass. Unless African lovegrass is slashed or burnt the stem and leaf will not be utilised by stock except under heavy stocking rates or where there is no pasture choice. Despite some lines being used as a pasture it is not recommended as a pasture species in Queensland. Being a prolific seeder the plant soon develops a large viable seed bank in the pasture making it difficult to eradicate and very competitive with all other pasture species. However in western areas it lacks drought tolerance and seed-bank longevity is not great.

    There are no easy control methods for the plant. Prevention of spread and seeding of the plant is by far the best policy. Prevent spread by cleaning down slashers, machinery and vehicles after operating in areas with African lovegrass. Movement of animals is also likely to spread the plant seeds in mud and wet coats.

    The following control methods should used in conjunction:

    Chipping to ground level with a hoe is a highly recommended option where there are few plants. The plants are difficult to remove and the disturbed area should be planted with a suitable pasture grass.

    At the date of preparation of this DPI Note the only herbicide registered for control of African lovegrass in pastures in Queensland is glyphosate-ipa based. There are other chemical registrations for control of the plant in various crops and other situations. Chemicals with the following active ingredients; atrazine, oxyfluorfen+ory and sulfometron-m are registered to control African lovegrass in specific crops and particular situations. Ask your local agronomist to check the Infopest CD-ROM for current registrations (see ‘Further information’ in this DPI Note).

    After controlling the plant with herbicides the remaining fibrous dead tussock takes a considerable time to break down making it difficult to allow other plants to establish. If using chemicals on large established plants it may be best to burn the affected area first and then treat the new growth before the plant goes to seed.

    Sown pastures
    Replanting pastures may be an option in some cases but it can be a costly and time consuming. Some landowners have reported success in controlling the plant by burning it, then heavily grazing the regrowth until a replacement pasture can be planted. If you do decide that replanting the pasture is suitable for your situation the following strategy can be used. Burn the pasture, cultivate and plant a sown pasture mix that is suitable for the area at the recommended time for pasture establishment. Follow-up chipping and spot control of new African lovegrass seedlings would then be required. An alternative to investigate could be increasing soil fertility and raising pH in acid soils. This may change conditions enough to allow other pastures to compete more vigorously with the plant.

    Hope that helps, found on web using keyword: african weeping lovegrass


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