Melinis repens

Natal grass

Nonnative to FloridaFISC Category 1 Invasive

Species Overview

Native to: South Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, India, the Seychelles island, and Canary Islands.

Rose natal grass was introduced to Florida in 1875 as a forage plant but it lacks nutritional value and was not well suited for this purpose. Promoted through the Agricultural Experiment Station near Miami, by 1914 Florida had around 30,000 acres of natal grass planted. It was also planted between rows of citrus trees to smother weeds such as sand spurs.

Species Characteristics

Family: Poaceae

Habit: grass possessing branching culms that root at the nodes, 20 to 40 inches in height.

Leaves: linear, 8 to 12 inches in length, grow from erect clumps.

Flowers: borne in panicles 4 to 8 inches long, purple to pink in color with reddish hairs that turn gray with age.

Distribution in Florida: reported throughout most of the state.


Displaces and prevents regeneration of native plants. 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. Although it will perenniate, it primarily reproduces by readily windborne seeds.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not allow seed setting to occur. Decontaminate all clothing, vehicles, and equipment upon leaving infested areas.


Fire does not provide control as it reseeds and resprouts vigorously as a result.


Mowing does not provide control.


None known.


Foliar applications of 2–3 quarts per acre or 1–2% v/v glyphosate; 0.5–1 quart per acre or 0.5–1% v/v imazapyr. Hexazinone at 1–2 quarts per acre is also effective. Imazapic (Plateau, Impose, others) at 12 oz per acre for seed suppression. New seedlings are common following glyphosate treatment. Imazapyr and hexazinone provide some residual control but may prevent recovery of desirable native species. Imazapic can be used to reduce seed production and provide better selectivity to native species.

Learn more about this species

UF IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas

Atlas of Florida Plants


USDA Plant Database

Invasive Species Compendium

View records and images from University of Florida Herbarium