Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov.
Pennisetum inclusum Pilg.
Pennisetum longistylum clandestinum (Chiov.) Leeke
Kikuyuochloa clandestina (Hochst. ex Chiov.) H.Scholz
Common Name: Kikuyu Grass
Cenchrus clandestinus is a perennial grass which may form a loose clump of culms up to 46cm high when left ungrazed, but as a result of grazing or mowing adopts a prostrate mode of growth, becoming a dense mat of growth. It spreads vigorously from rhizomes and stolons which root readily at the nodes, and are profusely branched. The root sysyem of older rhizomes/stolons proliferates densely in the upper 15 cm of soil, becoming less dense towards the growing point of the plant; in friable soils, the roots can penetrate down to 3 metes[
A common pasture plant, it is also often grown as a lawn, as a ground cover on recreational land and for soil stabilization. It has minor traditional medicinal uses.
East tropical Africa - Ethiopia, eastern DR Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania.
Upland grassland on fertile soils subject to grazing[
]. Deep red, well-drained latosolic soils at the forest margins, and in grassy glades; at elevations from 1,500 - 3,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Cenchrus clandestinus is a plant of higher elevations in the tropical zone, where it is found at elevations from 1,400 - 3,500 metres; it can also be cultivated at lower elevations in the subtropical and warm temperate zones. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 16 - 26°c, but can tolerate 5 - 31°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -9°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at -2°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 700 - 3,000mm[
Grows best in a sunny position, but tolerates light shade[
]. Prefers a very fertile soil on the heavy side, but can thrive on sandy soils if they are well fertilized[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 5.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[
]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[
]. Prefers well-drained soils, but plants can tolerate some waterlogging and up to 10 days inundation[
Cenchrus clandestinus is a creeping, mat-forming grass that has been extensively used as a pasture grass, lawn and ground cover. It is an aggressive invader of pasture, crops and natural areas, spreading via an extensive network of rhizomes and stolons, and forming dense mats of growth, which inhibit regeneration by smothering seedlings and young plants. Small pieces of the rhizomes or stolon can easily be transported to new locations and these will quickly root to form new plants. In addition, it also produces allelopathic chemicals that kill other plant species in its vicinity. In Peru, it has invaded ancient Inca ruins, causing destruction through its roots growing in crevices and cracking the stones[
]. The plant is said to be especially likely to become a weed in coastal areas on arable land and in irrigation channels[
].Both rhizomes and tillers can survive considerable drying after tillage; however, severe desiccation will kill them[
After germination and emergence of primary tillers, the seedlings develop a prostrate growth habit as the stolons grow radially[
Dry matter yields may be between 9 - 30 t/ha[
The whole plant, or the bruised leaf, is used as a styptic[
Kikuyu grass is a hard-wearing grass that is tolerant of trampling - it is used for many purposes including for lawns and recreational areas, and to prevent soil erosion along roads, on irrigation channel banks, bunds and hills[
Seed - the optimum temperature for germination is within the range of 19 - 29°c with the fastest rate at 29°c[
Division of the rhizomes
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