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Bothriochloa pertusa (L.) A.Camus 1931
pronounced: both-ree-OH-kloh-uh per-TEW-suh
(Poacae – the grass family)
common names: Indian Bluegrass. Indian Couch
Bothriochloa is from the Greek βοθριον (bothrion), a little furrow or pit, and χλορος (chloros), grassy, green, referring to the distinctly discoloured groove in the joints and pedicels; pertusa is from the Latin pertusus, perforated, thrust through.
This is a perennial grass, spreading by stolons as well as by seed, native to the Indian subcontinent and South-East Asia. In Australia it is found in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. It was introduced here as quite a good fodder grass in regions of moderate to low fertility soils. This year (2018) it has taken over as the dominant lawn and nature strip grass as Magnetic Island has greened up again after the long drought and water restrictions.
Although it provides good ground cover, will grow on infertile and hard-setting soils, competes well with weeds, and stands up to hard grazing, there are several disadvantages as well. The seed is awned, difficult to harvest, handle and sow, and the plant becomes unpalatable after flowering. In competes strongly with legumes when pasture improvement is being carried out, and, in periods of long drought the stand is reduced to isolated clumps, leaving a deal of bare land that is subject to erosion.
The grass normally grows to between 30 and 60 cm tall, and the stolons it produces are commonly red or pink, rooting down at the nodes. The nodes themselves may be hairless or hairy, and the stems are erect, or prostrate becoming erect.
The leaves are a grey-green in colour, the blades 5 – 10 cm long, 2.5 – 5 mm wide. The surface of the leaf blade is usually hairless, except for a few sparse hairs at the base. The ligule is a short fringed membrane.
The inflorescence emits an aromatic odour when crushed. The seedhead is comprised of 3 – 8 branches arising from different points on a central axis, 1 – 3 cm long and purplish is colour. The seeds are often pitted, with a sharply bent and twisted awn, anything up to about 18 mm long.
The grass will survive fire, recovering from the tufted crowns along the stolons. A severe fire, however, may thin out the stand.
It is well-eaten by stock when it is young and leafy. If hay is made, the material retains its quality, although the yield is low. Both cattle and horses are glad to eat the hay.
Photographed in Picnic Bay 2018
Page last updated 10th May 2018