- Close-up winter 2005
Species common name: kikuyugrass, kikuyu
Introduced as pasture seed into Australia in 1919 from the Belgian Congo. Only one seed germinated and vegetative propagation of this plant, which did not appear to set seed, produced 'common' kikuyu. It was then vegetatively propagated for over 50 years, although seed set was noted in 1934. 'Common' kikuyu in Australia now has a number of clonal variations, the result of repeated multiplication and the later introduction of seeded kikuyu.
|Global growing areas||
Native to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Zaire and the Congo.
Naturalised in North and South Africa, tropical Asia, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region, south western United States, Mexico and Central and South America.
Texture: Medium to coarse.
Description: A rhizomatous and stoloniferous prostrate species, which forms a dense mat. Stolons are multi-branched with short internodes. Rooting occurs at the nodes. Leaf blades 1.25-5 cm long, 3-4 mm wide, folded at first, then flattening. The leaf sheaths are yellow-green. Flowers are rare and appear on leafy, vegetative side shoots with only the stamens visible above the leaf sheaths.
Use: Lawns, parks, cemeteries, golf course fairways, playing fields, air strips, race courses and erosion control.
Mowing height: Requires frequent mowing to maintain a tight sward. Scalps easily. Mow every 7-10 days in summer and less frequently in winter as the growth rate slows. Mow at 30-40 mm. Lower cutting heights require more frequent maintenance.
Method of propagation: Vegetative - sod, plugs, sprigs.
Preferred soil types: Thrives on high fertility well-drained soils. pH 6.5 preferred, but will tolerate acidic soils to pH 4.5. Not suited to heavy clays.
Comments: Has a high nitrogen requirement and needs phosphorous levels at or above 15 ppm. High thatching tendency. Dethatch in late spring. Needs intensive management for high quality lawns or fairways. If poorly managed, the surface can interfere with ball roll on golf fairways. Can tolerate some water-logging and inundation.
Heat: Poor tolerance of extreme heat.
|Pests and diseases||
Susceptible to kikuyu yellows, producing symptoms of yellowing and patch dieback, caused by the fungus Verrucalvus flavofaciens. This can be a significant limitation. Also susceptible to a leaf spot caused by the fungus Pyricularia spp. Pests include army worm, African black beetle and sod web worms, bill bug and two spotted mite.
- Bransgrove K. (2006) 'Soil-Borne Turfgrass Diseases', 20 November 2008.
- Loch, DS et al (2006) Amenity grasses for salt-affected parks in coastal Australia. Report TU 02005. Horticulture Australia Limited, Pp.93.
- Mears, PT (1970) ´Kikuyu-(Pennisetum clandestinum) as a pasture grass-a review´, Tropical Grasslands 4(2):139-152.
- Ross, BA (1999) ´Pennisetum clandestinum in Australia´, p. 387-394, in Forage Seed Production, Volume 2: Tropical and Subtropical Species, edited by DS Loch and JE Ferguson, CABI Publishing, Wallingford, UK, Pp. 479.