Agrostis capillaris (common bent)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Agrostis capillaris L.
Preferred Common Name
- common bent
Other Scientific Names
- Agrostis alba var. vulgaris (With.) Coss. & Durieu
- Agrostis capillaris subsp. castellana (Boiss. & Reut.) O.Bolòs, Masalles & Vigo
- Agrostis capillaris subsp. olivetorum (Godr.) O.Bolòs, Masalles & Vigo
- Agrostis capillaris subsp. oreophila (O.Schwarz) Soják
- Agrostis capillaris subsp. repens (Laest.) Soják
- Agrostis capillaris var. alpigena (Schur) Druce
- Agrostis capillaris var. aristata (Parnell) Druce
- Agrostis capillaris var. aristulata Hitchc.
- Agrostis capillaris var. capillaris
- Agrostis capillaris var. humilis (Asch. & Graebn.) Druce
- Agrostis capillaris var. nigra (With.) Druce
- Agrostis capillaris var. olivetorum (Godr. & Gren.) Kerguélen
- Agrostis capillaris var. pumila (L.) Druce
- Agrostis capillaris var. stolonifera (L.) Druce
- Agrostis sylvatica Huds.
- Agrostis tarda Bartl.
- Agrostis tenuis Sibth.
- Agrostis vulgaris With.
International Common Names
- English: Astoria bent; black couch; brown bentgrass; browntop; browntop bentgrass; burden's grass; colonial bent; colonial bentgrass; common bentgrass; common bentgrass; dew grass; English bent; furzetop; New Zealand bentgrass; Prince Edward Island bent grass; Rhode Island bent; Rhode Island bent grass; Waipu bent
- Spanish: agróstide común; agróstide tenue; chépica alemana; heno ahumado; hierba fina; pasto quila
- French: agrostide commune; agrostide fine; agrostide ténue; agrostide vulgaire; agrostis capillaire; agrostis commun; agrostis delicat
- Russian: polevitsa tonkaya
- Chinese: xi ruo jian gu ying
- Portuguese: agrostide-tenue
Local Common Names
- Czech Republic: psinecek obecný; psinecek tenký
- Germany: gemeines Straussgras; rotes Straussgras; Rotstraussgras
- Italy: capellini delle praterie; capellini esile; capellini volgare
- Netherlands: gewoon struisgras
- Poland: mietlica pospolita
- Slovakia: psincek tenucký
- Sweden: roedven
- Turkey: kus otu
- AGSTE (Agrostis tenuis)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Common bent, Agrostis capillaris, is a typical and often abundant species in grasslands on acidic or neutral soils. It is native and widespread throughout most parts of Europe, western and southwestern Asia and North Africa. Within its native range the species is often abundant in nutrient poor pastures, along roadsides or on disturbed ground. A. capillaris has been intentionally introduced as a pasture grass and as a turf grass for lawns, in particular for golf courses, into a number of countries and has become widespread in North America, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America. It has been recorded as invading native grasslands in part of its exotic range, including prairies in North America.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Agrostis
- Species: Agrostis capillaris
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Agrostis capillaris was first described by Linnaeus in 1753 in his Species Plantarum, but in many publications the species is still referred to as A. tenuis, a name first published in 1794 in Flora Oxoniensis by Sibthorp. However, the Linnaean name takes precedence and is the accepted name, while A. tenuis is now classified as a junior synonym (ITIS, 2008). It is worth noting that A. capillaris Pollich, non L. and A. capillaris var. stolonifera (L.) Druce are in fact synonyms of A. stolonifera L. (Quattrocchi, 2006).
DescriptionTop of page
A. capillaris is a low-growing, rhizomatous, perennial grass. It forms dense swards of quite fine leaves that taper almost directly from the ligule down to the finely pointed tip. The flowering panicle is finely branched with numerous very small spikelets forming a reddish-purple haze over the mat of leaves. Culms are tufted, geniculate or decumbent and rooting at base, 20-70 (occasionally 100) cm tall. Leaf sheaths are smooth with linear blades, flat or inrolled, 2-15 cm x 1-4 mm, scabrous or nearly smooth with acuminate apex. The ligule on non-flowering shoots is 1-2 mm, shorter than wide and truncate. The panicle is elliptic in outline, up to 20 cm long, open and very lax with 2-5 spreading branches per node. Branches of the panicle are capillary, 1.5-3.5 cm, with purplish brown spikelets (1.5-2.5mm). Glumes are elliptic-lanceolate, subequal or lower glume slightly longer, lower glume scabrid along keel, the upper glume often smooth with acute apex. The entire plant is hairless. Seeds are small and brown; roots have scaly rhizomes and occasionally stolons (Edgar and Forde, 1991; Zheng et al., 2006; Quattrocchi, 2006; Gateley, 2015; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016; Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016; New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2016).
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
A. capillaris is native to most of Eurasia, from Ireland and Britain in the west, through Siberia and Central Asia, as far east as China and from Scandinavia south to the Mediterranean, including Tunisia in North Africa. It has been introduced and has naturalized in the Americas (USA, Canada, Greenland, Brazil, Argentina and Chile), southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand (USDA-ARS, 2016). It has also been introduced to several islands, including Saint Helena, Hawaii, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GISD, 2016).
A. capillaris is widespread largely in the western and eastern sides of North America and is considered invasive in the northeastern and western states of the USA (GoBotany, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016).
In Australia, A. capillaris is widely naturalized in the wetter parts of southern Australia, in much of New South Wales, Victoria,Tasmania, southeastern South Australia and the coastal districts of southwestern Western Australia (Queensland Government, 2016).
In New Zealand it has been naturalized since the 1840s and is now extremely widespread (Thomson, 1922) as it is an important fodder plant of dryland pastures (Levy, 1924). However, it has a significant role in the degradation of native grasslands (Treskonova, 1991).
Distribution TableTop of page
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.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Tristan da Cunha||Present||Introduced||Gough Island|
|French Southern Territories||Present|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||Present||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: before 1969|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|-Newfoundland and Labrador||Present||Introduced|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||Introduced|
|Saint Pierre and Miquelon||Present||Introduced|
|United States||Present, Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||invasive in northeastern and western states|
|-District of Columbia||Present||Introduced|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: 1840s|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Introduced|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
European colonists introduced A. capillaris as a pasture grass to the Americas, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It later became popular as a sports turf and lawn species and was widely planted. The first mention of A. capillaris in the USA dates back to 1747 for a collection made in Rhode Island, but the species was likely present a century earlier, having been introduced to New England by English settlers. Due to its popularity as a pasture and turf species, it spread rapidly. One of the first American cultivars, Astoria, was obtained from seed collected in 1926 in northwestern Oregon and it is considered a wild-type, the same as the common A. capillaris (Odland, 1930; Alderson and Sharp, 1995; Ruemmele, 2003; MacBryde, 2005). Its spread was facilitated by the fact that for many years it was the bentgrass of choice for lawns in large parts of the USA and up to the mid to late 1960s it was commonly found in commercial seed mixtures, particularly in the north-west (Cook, 2015).
There is little information as to exact dates when Europeans introduced A. capillaris to their other colonies, but it was present in New Zealand by at least the 1840s and was recorded as naturalized in 1867 (New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2016). It was first recorded naturalized in South Australia in 1859 (Jessop et al., 2006).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||UK||1859||Crop production (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Jessop et al. (2006)|
|New Zealand||UK||1867||Crop production (pathway cause)||Yes||No||New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (2016)|
|USA||Europe||1650-1747||Crop production (pathway cause)||Yes||No||Odland (1930)|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
On a global scale, A. capillaris has colonised many of the the temperate geographical regions which can provide a suitable climate for its growth and development. Until recently, seed of A. capillaris has been intentionally imported for turf and pasture grass use into a number of countries under legal licensing procedures. It is likely that this form of introduction will continue to a certain degree, particularly when the species is already widespread in the importing country.
HabitatTop of page
A. capillaris mainly occurs in grasslands and pastures throughout its native and introduced ranges though the species can become adapted to a wide range of other habitats (Acheroy and Lefèbvre, 1983). It can be particularly dominant on poor and acidic soils and is well adapted to grazing pressure (Stace, 1997; Wörz, 1998; Bond et al., 2007; Gateley, 2015). It also invades ruderal, disturbed areas, heathland, woodland, scrub and sand dune habitats, as well as urban areas where it frequently colonizes roadsides (Rapson and Wilson, 1988; Gateley, 2015). A. capillaris can also become abundant in wetlands and cultivated areas (Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016). In Australia, it is also reported from dry coastal vegetation, heathy woodlands, lowland grasslands, grassy woodlands, dry and damp sclerophyll forests, riparian vegetation and alpine and sub-alpine vegetation, including montane peatlands and swamps.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Scrub / shrublands||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Littoral||Coastal areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Littoral||Coastal dunes||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Littoral||Coastal dunes||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
A. capillaris has not been reported as a weed in specific cropping situations, but can invade pastures and other grasslands.
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Common bent forms hybrids with creeping bentgrass, A. stolonifera and black bent, A. gigantea (A. capillaris x gigantea= A. x bjoerkmanii Widén; Agrostis capillaris x stolonifera= A. x murbeckii Fouill.) (Tutin et al., 1980; NBN Gateway, 2016). EST sequence analyses by Rotter et al. (2007) showed that the allotetraploids (2n = 4x = 28) of A. capillaris and A. stolonifera had a genome, designated A2, in common and that these A2 genomes diverged from a common ancestor approximately 2.2 million years ago.
A. capillaris is predominantly outcrossing. It is wind pollinated and propagates by seeds but also vegetatively by rhizomes and stolons (GISD, 2016). In some populations the high proportion of clones and low occurrence of seedlings indicate significant vegetative reproduction (Smith, 1972). In the northern hemisphere seed setting takes place from August to October (Grime et al., 1988). Seeds can persist in the soil seed bank for over 40 years (Thompson et al., 1997).
Physiology and Phenology
A. capillaris is a long-day C3 plant, with an active growth period starting in spring. The flowering panicle becomes evident from May and flowering continues into August in the northern hemisphere (Wörz, 1998; Gateley, 2015). Here anthesis occurs 2 weeks after first emergence of inflorescences (Philipson, 1937). In the southern hemisphere inflorescences emerge from December to January, with anthesis occurring about 3.5 weeks later. After seeds have been shed, the bare panicles usually persist all winter (Gateley, 2015).
A. capillaris adapts to environmental stresses genetically and through plasticity, resulting often in distinct locally adapted forms (Jowett, 1964; Wörz, 1998). Adaptive advantages caused by its high plasticity are considered to contribute to its invasiveness (Rapson and Wilson, 1992a, 1992b). On the other hand, there is very little evidence that A. capillaris develops distinctly adapted forms in its introduced range even after considerable time (Rapson and Wilson, 1988; Wilson and Rapson, 1995).
A. capillaris is often associated with Festuca rubra, which nevertheless prefers slightly richer (mesotrophic) soils (Peeters, 2015). Other species commonly associated with A. capillaris in Europe are Ranunculus acris, Leontodon hispidus, Nardus stricta, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Potentilla erecta and Plantago lanceolata (Wörz, 1998).
Common bent has low climatic requirements, being very resistant to summer heat and winter cold. It is present in Atlantic and continental climates, at low and high altitude and, although it generally requires high light levels, can tolerate shade to a certain degree (Peeters, 2015).
Common bent is typical of mesotrophic to oligotrophic conditions and prefers fine to medium-textured soils containing a moderate level of organic matter, with a pH optimum of 6.5 to 7.3 (Dale et al., 1965). Optimal growth occurs on freely drained or fairly dry soils, but A. capillaris can also be abundant on poorly drained and damp soils when inhabiting wetlands (Rapson and Wilson, 1992a; Stace, 1997). Preferred soil conditions include sandy, schist, granitic and gneiss, where the soil reaction is acid, but also on chalk and dolomite with a basic soil reaction (Peeters, 2015). However, according to Wörz (1998), calcareous soil is only inhabited when the upper layer has become acidified.
The species is an indicator of low soil nutrient levels and often low phosphorus content (Wörz, 1998; Peeters, 2015). It lacks tolerance of magnesium, avoiding areas of higher magnesium concentration such as seashores (Wu, 1981), but has high tolerance of heavy metals and arsenic (Jowett, 1958, 1964; Wilson, 1988; Watkins and Macnair, 1991).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Tolerated||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|D - Continental/Microthermal climate||Preferred||Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Preferred||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Ascochyta agrostidis||Pathogen||Leaves||to genus|
|Ascochyta leptospora||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Blumeria graminis||Pathogen||Whole plant||not specific|
|Bryotropha terrella||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Coenonympha dorus||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Doratura stylatus||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Elachista apicipunctella||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Epichloe baconii||Pathogen||Stems||not specific|
|Erebia meolans||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Javesella dubia||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Lidophia graminis||Pathogen||Inflorescence/Leaves||not specific|
|Lopus decolor||Herbivore||Whole plant||to genus|
|Mastigosporium rubricosum||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Melanargia galathea||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Mocydiopsis parvicauda||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Neides tipularius||Herbivore||Whole plant||not specific|
|Phyllotreta vittula||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Puccinia coronata||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Puccinia graminis||Pathogen||Leaves/Stems||not specific|
|Puccinia recondita f.sp. agrostidis||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Pyrenophora erythrospila||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Pyronia tithonus||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Ramularia pusilla||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Rhinanthus serotinus||Parasite||Roots||not specific|
|Ribautodelphax collina||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Scottianella dalei||Herbivore||Leaves/Stems||not specific|
|Spermospora ciliata||Pathogen||Leaves||not specific|
|Streptanus sordida||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
|Tilletia sphaerococca||Pathogen||Inflorescence||not specific|
|Urocystis agrostidis||Pathogen||Leaves/Stems||to genus|
|Xanthodelphax straminea||Herbivore||Leaves||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Several non-specific pathogens of A. capillaris have been recorded, some of which are thought to be specific to the genus Agrostis (Braun, 1995; Dennis, 1995; Ellis and Ellis, 1997; Buczacki and Harris, 1998; Legon et al., 2005; Spooner and Legon, 2006; BioInfo (UK), 2015). This is mirrored by a suite of arthropod herbivores feeding on A. capillaris, with numerous polyphagous Lepidoptera being recorded from this species (Emmet and Langmaid, 2002; Entopedia, 2015; Natural History Museum, 2016). Generally, the host specificity of Hemiptera recorded from A. capillaris or Agrostis is not entirely clear (see Southwood and Leston, 1959; Nickel and Remane, 2002) and it cannot be excluded that some species of this group are specifically adapted to A. capillaris. It is notable that in the UK, only one chrysomelid beetle has been recorded from A. capillaris (Cox, 2007). Equally, a range of herbivorous arthropod species, including Diptera, sawflies, aphids and other Hemiptera, has only been reported from the genus Agrostis, likely indicating difficulties in identifying the host species during field observations (Nickel and Remane, 2002; Pitkin et al., 2015).
In the northwestern USA, European crane fly larvae are the only insects reported to cause significant damage on common bent in most years (Cook, 2015). In this context the term European cranefly most likely refers to either Tipula paludosa Meigen or T. oleracea L., with all turf grasses in the USA reported to be susceptible to the larvae of these two species (Peck et al., 2006).
In its native range A. capillaris is recorded as a host of the hemiparasitic plant Rhinanthus serotinus (Ahonen et al., 2006).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Seeds of A. capillaris are dispersed naturally by wind and water (Timmins and MacKenzie, 1995).
Seeds can be dispersed by wild ungulates via attachment to hair and hooves (Heinken and Raudnitschka, 2002). Seeds are also dispersed and eaten by ants and A. capillaris is sometimes associated with ant-mounds (Kovár et al., 2001; Kovár and Kovárová, 1998).
Seed of A. capillaris can be spread accidentally when it occurs as a contaminant of grass seed lots or in sod soil (Cook, 2015).
There has been considerable historical anthropogenic intentional spread of the species as a pasture and turf grass. For example, in 1954, New Zealand harvested 487,000 kg of common bent seed, most of which was exported abroad (Corkill and Rumball, 1980). A. apillaris may also be introduced as a dune stabiliser.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
|Environment (generally)||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
A. capillaris is a known carrier of Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which reduces populations of native grasses in New Zealand and has economic implications for infection of cereal crops (Davis and Guy, 2001).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
A. capillaris is classified as an environmental weed throughout wide parts of Australia. This species is now a major weed of disturbed sites and pasture and also invades dry coastal vegetation, heathlands and heathy woodlands, lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands, dry sclerophyll forests, damp sclerophyll forests, riparian vegetation, freshwater wetlands and alpine and sub-alpine vegetation. It competes strongly with or in some places even displaces native species and is common in disturbed areas in the sub-alpine and alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, remaining persistent even in the absence of continued disturbance (Johnston and Pickering, 2001; McDougall, 2001; Pickering and Hill, 2007; Queensland Government, 2016). In Australia, A. capillaris is generally troublesome in cooler areas and in wetter parts such as wetlands and riparian areas and is regarded as a high threat weed species in remnant floodplain riparian woodlands. In particular, A. capillaris aggressively competes with native species in bog and fen communities (i.e. montane peatlands and swamps) (Queensland Government, 2016).
Impact on Biodiversity
In Australia, competition from A. capillaris, amongst other introduced grasses, is thought to pose a threat to the endangered plump swamp wallaby-grass (Amphibromus pithogastrus) in Victoria through direct competition and also by reducing the frequency of bare areas needed for seedling establishment. It is also likely to compete with the vulnerable small milkwort (Comesperma polygaloides) in grasslands on the basalt plains of western Victoria (Queensland Government, 2016).
In New Zealand grasslands, replacement of native forbs by A. capillaris has led to reductions in endemic grassland moths (White, 1991).
A. capillaris is one of the invasive non-native grass species listed as a threat to the Nelson’s checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana) in prairie grasslands in Oregon, USA (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012), while in Canada, it is one of the alien invasive plants threatening the brook spike-primrose, Epilobium torreyi (synonym of Boisduvalia stricta according to the Plant List (2013)), an annual plant species considered endangered in southwestern Canada: it has been reported from only two sites on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. A. capillaris competes with it for limited resources, including light, water and nutrients (Parks Canada Agency, 2011).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Amphibromus pithogastrus||National list(s)||Victoria||Competition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smothering||Queensland Government, 2016|
|Boisduvalia stricta||National list(s)||British Columbia||Competition - monopolizing resources||Parks Canada Agency, 2011|
|Comesperma polygaloides||National list(s)||Victoria||Competition - monopolizing resources||Queensland Government, 2016|
|Sidalcea nelsoniana||USA ESA listing as threatened species||; ; Oregon; Washington||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012|
Social ImpactTop of page
As with many grasses, the pollen of A. capillaris is severely allergenic (PollenLibrary.com, 2016).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of successional patterns
- Negatively impacts forestry
- Negatively impacts human health
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Causes allergic responses
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
A. capillaris is regarded as an agronomically valuable fodder and pasture grass for livestock production, occasionally cut for hay (USDA-APHIS, 2003; Quattrocchi, 2006). It is part of many garden lawn mixtures and in particular used for tennis courts and golf course fairways (Hubbard, 1954; Quattrocchi, 2006). In parts of its introduced range, production and export of A. capillaris seed has been economically important. New Zealand for example, produced over 450,000 kg of seed for export during the 1950s (Corkill and Rumball, 1980).
As a lawn and golf course grass it has been widely grown in areas with mild (cool-humid) summers, including some parts of Australia (Queensland Government, 2016), northern Europe, the USA and New Zealand. Compared to A. stolonifera, A. capillaris has a more upright growth habit and does not spread aggressively, so is generally better adapted for tees and/or fairways in the warmer summer climates of the USA and numerous cultivars have been developed for these purposes (Bonos and Murphy, 2009).
A. capillaris has been introduced and used outside its native range for erosion control and in rehabilitation work (Zhao et al., 2006; Queensland Government, 2016). It is a food source for herbivores, including rabbits (Tansley, 1949a, 1949b; Gillham, 1955).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Landscape improvement
- Soil conservation
- garden plant
- Seed trade
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
A. capillaris is a highly variable species with many cultivars recognized. Individual plants can differ greatly in size, habit, presence or absence of stolons or rhizomes, type of inflorescence and spikelet structure (GISD, 2016). There is wide phenotypic and genotypic variation in populations (Grime et al., 1988) and some of this variation may be the result of hybridization with A. stolonifera and A. castellana (Edgar and Forde, 1991).
Recent research suggests that much of what has been identified as A. capillaris in south-eastern Australia is actually highland bent (A. castellana), but implications for invasiveness and management are not clearly understood (Queensland Government, 2016). The most conclusive way to differentiate between the two species is to use vegetative characters. A. capillaris differs from A. castellana in having diffuse rather than clustered spikelets that are awnless, fewer rhizomes, divaricate panicle branches after anthesis, calluses that are glabrous or with hairs up to 0.1 mm long and glabrous lemmas. It also tends to flower somewhat earlier than A. castellana (Harvey, 2015). However, using spikelets primarily as a means of identification is inconclusive since field specimens of A. castellana often are found awnless as well. A. castellana is vigorously rhizomatous, has a longer ligule and has finer, rolled, grey-green leaves than A. capillaris (Batson, 1998; GISD, 2016).
A. capillaris differs from A. gigantea in its short ligules, especially on the vegetative shoots and the open panicles that lack spikelets near the base of the branches (Harvey, 2015).
A. capillaris is often confused with A. stolonifera (creeping bentgrass) and the two can form hybrids. Creeping bentgrass can be distinguished by its longer ligules (not coming to a point) and always having stolons. In addition, the panicle is open in A. capillaris and closed in A. stolonifera (Gateley, 2015; GISD, 2016; Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016).
A. capillaris also readily hybridizes with A. vinealis, the hybrids being somewhat intermediate in morphology between the two parents (Harvey, 2015).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures
A. capillaris is highly adapted to grazing and tolerant of burning, so neither of these mechanisms can be used to control the species and can, in fact, result in increased abundance (Wilson, 1999; GISD, 2016). In cultivated areas, where A. capillaris can become a weed, short rotations with root crops may help reduce this species (Bond et al., 2007; GISD, 2016).
For Agrostis species in general, conventional control including physical removal is considered difficult or not feasible even when they exert a large negative impact on native biodiversity. However, for A. capillaris, mechanical removal by hand pulling, ploughing, grubbing and harrowing can reduce abundance. It can also prevent seeding when applied in spring or early summer before seed set (Morse and Palmer, 1925; Long, 1938). Manual removal is labour intensive and remaining pieces of broken stolons can re-establish (GISD, 2016).
There are no known biological control agents available for A. capillaris (Froude, 2002; GISD, 2016) and the value of the species worldwide as a commercial fodder and lawn grass may preclude any attempts at biological control.
The graminicide cycloxydim has been used to effectively control A. capillaris in forest tree establishment situations (Clay et al., 2006). A. capillaris is also susceptible to the herbicides dalapon, hexazinone and sethoxydim, the last giving a 100% mean control rate (Evans, 1964; Hosaka, 1984; White et al., 1990), while glyphosate applied before emergence reduces growth rate (Salazar, 1982). The introduction of glyphosate resistance into A. capillaris by genetic engineering (USDA-APHIS, 2003) may have implications for the species’ invasiveness, spread and control.
ReferencesTop of page
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29/02/2016 Original text by:
Norbert Maczey, CABI, Egham, UK
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