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African lovegrass

African Lovegrass coastal form

African lovegrass head

Afr lovegrass broad-leaf coastal form

Afr lovegrass florets

African lovegrass Monaro form

African lovegrass florets closer

African lovegrass Monaro form seed head

African lovegrass hairy nodes

River tussock

River tussock flowers

Parramatta grass plant

Parramatta grass spike-like head

Hairy panic plant

Hairy panic seed, leaf hairs

Hairy panic seed on fence

Native paddock lovegrass

Stinkgrass

     


status:

African lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) is listed as noxious in class 4 in all LCAs of the Southern Tablelands and South East Region.

Description

African lovegrass is a perennial tussock grass to 1m with variable tussock shape, leaf colour and leaf width. On the south coast there are at least two forms, one open in shape with spreading branches held relatively low to the ground and blue-green leaves, and one very robust tussock with a more erect habit and wider green leaves. The form most common on the Monaro is much shorter and often has curly leaf tips and blue-green leaves. The most distinctive feature common to all forms is the black or dark grey colour of the young seed heads. These start with the branches folded close to the main stem but open out as they age. There is a ring of long hairs where the leaf joins the leaf sheath. Joints at the base of the seed head branches are often swollen and yellowish, and may also have long hairs.

African lovegrass thrives on sandy low nutrient soils, road and rail reserves and over-grazed pasture. It may also invade forest along tracks. Avoided by livestock, it replaces more palatable species in grazed pasture,  often completely, if control is not undertaken. It is highly flammable and creates a fire hazard.

Dispersal

Spread by slashing of plants when they are carrying seed (a common method of spread for grass weeds), in contaminated hay, in soil on vehicles and machinery and in the gut of livestock. Spreads in water along river systems.

Look-alikes

The most similar grasses to the robust tussock form of African lovegrass are river or silver tussock (Poa labillardierei), the broader leaved Poa ensiformis and snowgrass or poa tussock (Poa sieberiana) which all differ in having the young seed heads purple tinged.

Parramatta grass (Sporobolus africanus) looks a little similar to the open, low-growing form.  It has similar blue-green, hairless glossy leaves and a very similar spreading growth habit, and the seed heads are black or grey in colour.  However, they are a narrow spike, without spreading branches. 

The native grass hairy panic (Panicum effusum) may look a little similar to the short Monaro form of African lovegrass, but it has widely branching seed heads with very sparse florets and broad, soft green leaves with sparse long hairs along the margins. Its seed heads break off entire and blow around to pile up against fences.

There are many other lovegrasses, some of which look a little similar.  Paddock lovegrass (Eragrostis leptostachya) is a very common pasture plant that has a similar low-growing habit, with blue-green leaves, but the seed heads have short branches which stand out at right angles or even point backwards slightly from the main stem.

Stinkgrass (Eragrostis cilianensis) is a weed of roadsides, often growing thickly in the gravel strip next to the bitumen.  It has blackish seed-heads but is a more compact plant than African lovegrass, the seed heads are dense with shorter branches and the individual florets are larger.


Control

Chip out or spot spray and destroy seed heads. Once a dense infestation has developed, cultivation and establishment of a vigorous perennial pasture may be needed. Do not graze in the first year, and remove any African lovegrass seedlings that appear. Manage grazing intensity to maintain pasture vigour to out-compete lovegrass seedlings.