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Datasheet

Urochloa mutica (para grass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 25 September 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Urochloa mutica
  • Preferred Common Name
  • para grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Growth habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionGrowth habit.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Growth habit.
HabitGrowth habit.Sheldon Navie
Growth habit at water's edge.
TitleHabit
CaptionGrowth habit at water's edge.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Growth habit at water's edge.
HabitGrowth habit at water's edge.Sheldon Navie
Seed head.
TitleSeed head
CaptionSeed head.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Seed head.
Seed headSeed head.Sheldon Navie
Leaf and stem, note profuse hairs.
TitleStem
CaptionLeaf and stem, note profuse hairs.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Leaf and stem, note profuse hairs.
StemLeaf and stem, note profuse hairs.Sheldon Navie
Leaf and stem.
TitleStem
CaptionLeaf and stem.
CopyrightSheldon Navie
Leaf and stem.
StemLeaf and stem.Sheldon Navie

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) T.Q.Nguyen

Preferred Common Name

  • para grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Brachiaria mutica (Forssk.) Stapf
  • Brachiaria numidiana (Lam.) Henrard
  • Brachiaria purpurascens (Raddi) Henr.
  • Panicum amphibium Steud.
  • Panicum barbinode Trin.
  • Panicum equinum Salzm. ex Steud.
  • Panicum limnaeum Steud.
  • Panicum muticum Forssk.
  • Panicum numidianum Lam.
  • Panicum pictigluma Steud.
  • Panicum punctulatum Arn. ex Steud.
  • Panicum purpurascens Raddi

International Common Names

  • English: buffalo grass; California grass; Carib grass; Mauritius grass; para grass; Scotch grass; tall panicum; water grass
  • Spanish: gramalote; hierba de para; hierba para; malojilla; papare; parana; pasto para; Zacate para
  • French: herbe borer; herbe de Para
  • Portuguese: capim-de-Angola

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: angolinha; bengo; braquiária; capim-angola; capim-bengo; capim-branco; capim-das-ilhas; capim-de-cavalo; capim-de-corte; capim-de-lastro; capim-de-pará; capim-de-planta; capim-do-Pará; capim-fino; capim-planta; egipto; erva-do-pará; vapim-fino
  • Germany: Paragras
  • Indonesia: rumput melela
  • Mexico: zacate para
  • Puerto Rico: malojillo; yerba pará

EPPO code

  • PANPU (Brachiaria mutica)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Urochloa
  •                                 Species: Urochloa mutica

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The grass species U. mutica was first described as Panicum muticum by Forsskal in 1775. It was moved to the genus Brachiaria in 1919 by Otto Stapf. The current name U. mutica was published in 1966. The genus Urochloa is paleotropical and includes 12 species native mainly to the African savannas (Torres-Gonzalez and Morton, 2005).

The weaknesses of the characters used to separate Brachiaria from Urochloa (i.e., spikelet orientation and presence or absence of an upper floret) have been discussed by several authors including Webster (1987, 1988) and Morrone and Zuloaga (1992, 1993). Consequently, floristic studies conducted in Australia (Webster, 1987), North America (Webster, 1988; Zuloaga and Morrone, 2003), South America, Mexico and Central America (Morrone and Zuloaga, 1992, 1993) have circumscribed species of Brachiaria into Urochloa. On the other hand, Sharp and Simon (2002) maintain the name Brachiaria for all species that occur in Australia and the annual species of Brachiaria are now included in the new genus Moorochloa (Veldkamp, 2004). The taxonomic positions of these genera still remain unclear.

Description

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U. mutica is a perennial; stoloniferous grass. Culms to 5 m long, long-decumbent and rooting at the lower nodes, vertical portion 90-200 (300) cm; nodes villous. Lower sheaths with papillose-based hairs, margins ciliate; collars pubescent; ligules 1-1.5 mm; blades 7.5-35 cm long, 4-20 mm wide, glabrous or sparsely pilose on both surfaces, margins scabrous. Panicles 10-25 cm long, 5-10 cm wide, pyramidal, with 10-30 spikelike branches in more than 2 ranks; primary branches 2.5-8 cm long, 0.4-0.9 mm wide, ascending to divergent, axes flat, glabrous or with a few papillose-based hairs, secondary branches present or absent; pedicels shorter than the spikelets, scabrous, sometimes with hairs. Spikelets 2.6-3.5 mm long, 1-1.4 mm wide, mostly in pairs, in 2-4 rows, appressed to the branches, purplish to green. Glumes scarcely separate, lower glumes 0.6-1.1 mm, 1/5-1/3 as long as the spikelets, glabrous, 0-1(3)-veined; upper glumes 2.6-3.5 mm, glabrous, 5-(7)-veined, without cross venation; lower florets staminate; lower lemmas 2.6-3.3 mm, glabrous, 5-veined, without cross venation; upper lemmas 2.3-2.8 mm long, 1-1.3 mm wide, apices rounded, mucronate; anthers 1-1.5 mm. Caryopses 1.8-2 mm long (Barkworth et al., 2003).

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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U. mutica is native to tropical areas of western and northern Africa (Parsons 1972) including areas from the Sahara to Angola, northern Africa to Syria, and the Southwestern Arabian Peninsula (Clayton et al., 2014). It is now also widely distributed in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the southern United States, Mexico, Central America, South America and the West Indies (for details see Distribution Table).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentClayton et al., 2014
CambodiaPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
China
-Hong KongPresentWu, 2001
India
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentClayton et al., 2014
-AssamPresentClayton et al., 2014
IndonesiaPresentClayton et al., 2014
-JavaPresentClayton et al., 2014
-SulawesiPresentClayton et al., 2014
-SumatraPresentClayton et al., 2014
IsraelPresentClayton et al., 2014
JapanPresentUSDA-ARS, 2014
LaosPresentWaterhouse, 1993
LebanonPresentClayton et al., 2014
MalaysiaPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
MyanmarPresentClayton et al., 2014
NepalPresentClayton et al., 2014
PhilippinesPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
SingaporePresent Invasive Chong et al., 2009
Sri LankaPresentClayton et al., 2014
SyriaPresentClayton et al., 2014
TaiwanPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
ThailandPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
VietnamPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
YemenPresentClayton et al., 2014

Africa

AlgeriaPresentClayton et al., 2014
AngolaPresentClayton et al., 2014
BeninPresentClayton et al., 2014
Burkina FasoPresentClayton et al., 2014
CameroonPresentClayton et al., 2014
ChadPresentClayton et al., 2014
CongoPresentClayton et al., 2014
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentClayton et al., 2014
Côte d'IvoirePresentClayton et al., 2014
EgyptPresentClayton et al., 2014
GabonPresentClayton et al., 2014
GambiaPresentClayton et al., 2014
GhanaPresentClayton et al., 2014
GuineaPresentClayton et al., 2014
LiberiaPresentClayton et al., 2014
MadagascarPresentClayton et al., 2014
MaliPresentClayton et al., 2014
MauritaniaPresentClayton et al., 2014
MauritiusPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
MoroccoPresentClayton et al., 2014
NigerPresentClayton et al., 2014
NigeriaPresentClayton et al., 2014
RéunionPresent Invasive PIER, 2014
Rodriguez IslandPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
SenegalPresentClayton et al., 2014
SeychellesPresentClayton et al., 2014
Sierra LeonePresentClayton et al., 2014
SomaliaPresentClayton et al., 2014
TanzaniaPresentClayton et al., 2014
TogoPresentClayton et al., 2014
TunisiaPresentClayton et al., 2014

North America

BermudaPresentClayton et al., 2014
MexicoPresent Invasive Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004
USA
-AlabamaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-FloridaPresent Invasive Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2011
-HawaiiPresent Invasive Wagner et al., 1999
-MarylandPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OregonPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TexasPresentUSDA-NRCS, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
ArubaPresentClayton et al., 2014
BahamasPresentClayton et al., 2014
BarbadosPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BelizePresentClayton et al., 2014
Cayman IslandsPresentClayton et al., 2014
Costa RicaPresent Invasive Chacón and Saborío, 2012
CubaPresent Invasive González-Torres et al., 2012
CuraçaoPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
DominicaPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentClayton et al., 2014
El SalvadorPresentClayton et al., 2014
GrenadaPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuadeloupePresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
GuatemalaPresentClayton et al., 2014
HaitiPresentClayton et al., 2014
HondurasPresentClayton et al., 2014
JamaicaPresentClayton et al., 2014
MartiniquePresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
MontserratPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Netherlands AntillesPresentClayton et al., 2014
NicaraguaPresentClayton et al., 2014
PanamaPresentClayton et al., 2014
Puerto RicoPresent Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Saint LuciaPresentGraveson, 2012Very common
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
United States Virgin IslandsPresent Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012

South America

ArgentinaPresentClayton et al., 2014
BoliviaPresentClayton et al., 2014
BrazilPresentShirasuna, 2014Distrito Federal
-GoiasPresentShirasuna, 2014
-Mato GrossoPresentShirasuna, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentShirasuna, 2014
-ParanaPresent Invasive I3N Brasil, 2014
-Sao PauloPresent Invasive I3N Brasil, 2014
ColombiaPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
EcuadorPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977Invasive on Galapagos Islands
French GuianaPresentFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
GuyanaPresentFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
ParaguayPresentClayton et al., 2014
PeruPresentClayton et al., 2014
SurinamePresentFunk et al., 2007Naturalized
VenezuelaPresentClayton et al., 2014

Europe

Portugal
-AzoresPresentDAISIE, 2014
-MadeiraPresentDAISIE, 2014

Oceania

American SamoaPresent Invasive Space and Flynn, 2000
Australia
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-New South WalesPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-QueenslandPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-South AustraliaPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-TasmaniaPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-VictoriaPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
-Western AustraliaPresent Invasive Smith, 2002
Cook IslandsPresentMcCormack, 2013
FijiPresent Invasive Smith, 1979
French PolynesiaPresent Invasive Florence et al., 2013
GuamPresent Invasive Stone, 1970
Marshall IslandsPresentPIER, 2014
New CaledoniaPresent Invasive MacKee, 1994
New ZealandPresent Invasive Sykes, 1977
NiuePresent Invasive Space et al., 2004
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentPIER, 2014
PalauPresent Invasive Space et al., 2003
Papua New GuineaPresentClayton et al., 2014
SamoaPresent Invasive Holm et al., 1977
Solomon IslandsPresentClayton et al., 2014
TongaPresent Invasive Space and Flynn, 2001
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentPIER, 2014
VanuatuPresentPIER, 2014
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentPIER, 2014

History of Introduction and Spread

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U. mutica was introduced into the Americas via Brazil in the early days of trading (Parsons, 1972; Smith, 1979). Consequently, in the 1800s, there was confusion about its origin, with suggestions that it was native to South America, and in 1823 it was described from Brazilian specimens as Panicum purpurascens, and as Panicum barbinode in 1829 (Stone, 1970). It was introduced into Florida in the 1870s and recommended as a forage plant by the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station in 1910 (Langeland et al., 2008; Chaudhari et al., 2012). In Australia, it was introduced into Queensland around 1880 to reduce soil erosion along the banks of waterways (Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2012). In the West Indies, it was first collected in 1883 in Puerto Rico (US Herbarium collection). By 1977, Holm and collaborators listed this species as a serious weed in Australia, Fiji and Thailand, a weed in Sri Lanka, Colombia, Hawaii, Jamaica, Malaysia, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad, and as a common weed in Borneo and Mauritius (Holm et al., 1977).

Risk of Introduction

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The risk of introduction of U. mutica is very high. It has been intentionally introduced repeatedly in tropical and subtropical regions to be used as a fodder, forage and silage crop (Cook et al., 2005). It has escaped from cultivation and rapidly naturalized into natural areas where it colonizes forming dense stands and displacing native vegetation (Holm et al., 1977; Langeland et al., 2008; Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2012). When growing under suitable environmental conditions (i.e., moist soils), U. mutica spreads rapidly (up to 5 metres in a year) through its long stolons and possibly through water-borne seed (Cook et al., 2005).

Habitat

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U. mutica can be found growing in poorly drained, swampy or seasonally waterlogged areas, along creeks, rivers, floodplains, wetlands and drainage channels, around lakes and dams, in roadside ditches and in other damp habitats (Holm et al., 1977; Cook et al., 2005; Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2012). In Florida, the species has been reported growing in coastal berms, hardwood hammocks, mesic and wet flatwoods, bottomland forests, floodplain forests, stream and spring shores, and ruderal communities. U. mutica also grows as a weed of summer crops, plantation crops such as sugarcane, sown pastures, rice plantations and orchards (Holm et al., 1977; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Lakes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Lakes Present, no further details Natural
Lakes Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Ponds Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Present, no further details Natural
Ponds Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Natural
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm)ArecaceaeOther
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeOther

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for U. mutica is 2n = 36 (Barkworth et al., 2003). 

Reproductive Biology

U. mutica has been reported as a short-day species that flowers most prolifically in humid environments at latitudes of 10–20º (Cook et al., 2005). Pollination is apparently wind-aided and little or no flowering is reported at subtropical latitudes. In Florida, it flowers from September through December (Langeland et al., 2008) and in northern Australia it flowers in late April/early May and seeds in May (Cook et al., 2005). 

Longevity

U. mutica is a long-lived perennial species (Barkworth et al., 2003). 

Environmental Requirements

U. mutica is native to floodplains in sub-Saharan tropical Africa; thus this species prefers to grow in flat, poorly drained, seasonal floodplains or high rainfall environments in tropical and subtropical regions of the world (mostly in areas with full sunlight; Cook et al., 2005; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). It is also adapted to grow in wetlands, ponds, and along rivers, creeks and lakes from sea level to about 1500 metres in elevation. U. mutica is well adapted to a wide range of soil types (from sandy to clay soils), and tolerates moderate salinity, low pH to 4.5 and the high levels of trace elements normally produced under water-logged conditions. It is also adapted to high temperatures (20-35°C) but growth is restricted by temperatures below 15ºC (Cook et al., 2005).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 27.5

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall8704100mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Capnodium Mycoparasite Growing point not specific N
Mocis latipes Herbivore All Stages not specific N
Rhizoctonia Pathogen All Stages not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

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According to the Purdue University NewCROP web site (based on Duke, 1983), the following fungi have been reported on U. mutica:

  • Epicoccum andropogonis
  • Thanatephorus cucumeris
  • Gibberella pulicaris
  • Helminthosporium sp.
  • Marasmius sacchari
  • Mayriogenospora paspali
  • Myrothecium striatosporum
  • Khuskia oryzae
  • Nigrospora panici
  • Perisporium zeae
  • Pythium artorogus
  • Pythium arrhenomanes
  • Magnaporthe grisea
  • Uromyces setariae-italicae 

This species is also attacked by the bacterium Pectobacterium carotovorum var. graminarum and the list of nematode species isolated from this grass includes:

  • Dolichodorus nigeriensis
  • Helicotylenchus pseudorobustus
  • Hemicriconemoides cocophilus
  • Scutellonema clathricaudatum
  • Tylenchorhynchus sp.
  • Xiphinema ifacolum

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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U. mutica spreads by seed and vegetatively by stolons. It can grow up to 5 metres in a year (Cook et al., 2005). U. mutica has water-borne seed and consequently seeds and stem fragments can be spread by floodwaters. Seeds and stem segments can also be dispersed by animals such as birds and by cattle. Long-distance dispersal occurs principally through its use as a pasture grass (Cook et al., 2005; Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Animal productionPasture grass Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
Escape from confinement or garden escapeEscaped from cultivation Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
ForagePasture grass Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds, stem fragments Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
Host and vector organismsBirds spread seeds and stem fragments Yes Yes Smith, 2002
Land vehiclesSeeds, stem fragments Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
LivestockSeeds, runners and cuttings Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
Machinery and equipmentSeeds, stem fragments Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
MailSeeds Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds, stem fragments Yes Yes Cook et al., 2005
WaterSeeds, stem fragments Yes Yes Smith, 2002

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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U. mutica is a fast-growing species which grows forming very dense infestations that smother riverbanks, wetlands, and floodplain vegetation, and it also floats out over the water surface reducing areas available for waterfowl and water-birds. It is invasive in riparian habitats, wetlands, and swamps in Australia, the United States (i.e., Florida and Hawaii), Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and islands in the Pacific (Holm et al., 1977; Wagner et al., 1999; Villaseñor and Espinosa-Garcia, 2004; Langeland et al., 2005; Chacon and Saborio, 2012; Gonzalez et al., 2012; PIER, 2014; USDA-NRCS, 2014). U. mutica also invades areas of remnant vegetation away from water, especially in coastal areas and disturbed sites.

In Australia, U. mutica is considered a serious environmental weed in wetlands in the Western Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, and New South Wales, where it is destroying water-bird breeding habitats and replacing native vegetation along streams and in riparian zones. Here, this grass is destroying the breeding habitat of the magpie goose (Anseranas semipalmata) and reducing the ability of this bird to feed in open water. It is also one of the major environmental weeds infesting floodplains in the Northern Territory and contributing to the decline of the endangered yellow chat Epthianura crocea tunneyi (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011; Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2012).

In Florida, U. mutica invades disturbed low channels, lake shorelines, coastal berms, hardwood hammocks, mesic and wet flatwoods, bottomland forests, floodplain forests, streams, spring shores, marshes, swamps and ruderal communities where it is displacing native vegetation (Langeland et al., 2008).

U. mutica can also change the fire regime in invaded habitats because during the dry season the aboveground portion of the grass dries out becoming a potential “fuel activator” for fires. It also has the potential to alter the water carrying capacity of streams and riparian areas invaded, causing increased flooding in infested water systems (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011). In Brazil, U. mutica is one of several aquatic plant species that has caused significant damage to infrastructure associated with hydroelectric dams (Costa et al., 2006). 

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Epthianura crocea tunneyi (Yellow Chat (tunneyi))National list(s)Australia/Australian Northern TerritoryCompetition - smothering; Competition - stranglingQueensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011

Risk and Impact Factors

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Impact mechanisms

  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - shading
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition - strangling
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting

Impact outcomes

  • Altered trophic level
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Infrastructure damage
  • Modification of fire regime
  • Modification of hydrology
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Soil accretion
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Transportation disruption

Invasiveness

  • Abundant in its native range
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Fast growing
  • Has a broad native range
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Long lived
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc

Likelihood of entry/control

  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally

Uses

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U. mutica has been used as forage, fodder and pasture grass in waterlogged conditions and ponded pastures. It has also been used to control soil erosion on sloping fields and in seasonally waterlogged areas (Cook et al., 2005; PROTA, 2014).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization

Prevention and Control

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A combination of manual and chemical methods is recommended for the management of infestations of U. mutica. In the case of smaller infestations, plants can be cut out and all stolons must be removed. Larger infestations can be controlled by cutting the foliage and the aboveground segments of the grass. Long-term control of treated areas is recommended. The herbicide glyphosate can be applied to actively growing plants at the early head stage, but not to weeds growing over water (Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, 2011).

In Florida, a study evaluating the use of non-chemical control of U. mutica showed that burning, cutting, or roller-chopping should be applied in conjunction with flooding for effective management. This study shows that roller-chopping followed by flooding, and burning followed by flooding, can be options to control this grass species in areas where herbicides cannot be applied (Chaudhari et al., 2012).

References

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Contributors

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12/02/14 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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