Rhynchelytrum repens syn. Melinis repens

Natal grass

 

Introduction

The Poaceae are one of the largest families of flowering plants with about 500 genera and 8,000 species. Rhynchelytrum repens is an annual grass native to South Africa and is found throughout many counties in Florida. It was introduced as a forage species, but lacks the nutritional qualities of other species. Natal grass prefers dry conditions and is found in waste lands and perennial crop fields. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council lists natal grass as a Category II invasive.

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Description

Natal grass possesses branching culms that root at the nodes. These are able to reach 20 to 40 inches in height. The leaves are linear and 8 to 12 inches in length and grow from erect clumps. The flowers are borne in panicles 4 to 8 inches long, and are purple to pink in color with reddish hairs that turn gray with age. Although natal grass will perenniate, is primarily propagated by seeds, which are readily windborne.

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Impacts

Natal grass displaces native vegetation and prevents those species from regenerating. It is a primary invader of abandoned crop fields and unimproved pastures and prevents the natural succession of native species such as Andropogon and desirable forbs.

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Management

 

Preventative:

Do not allow seed setting to occur.

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Cultural:

Remove all plants in the landscape.

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Mechanical:

Typically natal grass reseeds and resprouts vigorously following fire and quickly invades disturbed areas. In several areas in south Florida, natal grass has invaded scrub habitat following fire. Mowing will not provide control.

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Biological:

There are no known biological control agents for natal grass.

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Chemical:  

Spot treatments of glyphosate at 1-2% solution with surfactant will provide good control. Apply prior to flowering and seed set. Imazapyr will provide good control but is non-selective and will persist for several months in the soil. Preliminary research suggests imazapic (Plateau) may provide good control.

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References and Useful Links:

Invasives and Exotic Species of North America

University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants

University of Florida’s Cooperative Extension Electronic Data Information Source

Langeland, K.A. and K. Craddock Burks. 1998. Identification and Biology of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas. IFAS Publication SP 257. University of Florida, Gainesville. 165 pp.

Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). Plant Threats to Pacific Ecosystems

US Army Corps of Engineers

 

Excerpted from the University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Circular 1529, Invasive Species Management Plans for Florida, 2008 by:

Greg MacDonald, Associate Professor Jay Ferrell, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Brent Sellers, Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Specialist
Ken Langeland, Professor and Extension Weed Specialist Agronomy Department, Gainesville and Range Cattle REC, Ona
Tina Duperron-Bond, DPM – Osceola County
Eileen Ketterer-Guest, former Graduate Research Assistant

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