Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Paspalum urvillei
(Vasey grass)



Paspalum urvillei (Vasey grass)


  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Paspalum urvillei
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Vasey grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Paspalum urvillei is a well-known weed of agricultural fields and disturbed areas (Randall, 2012), but it has been...

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Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit, with Laysan albatross chick, at Parade field, Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 12, 2008.
TitleInvasive habit, with Laysan albatross chick
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit, with Laysan albatross chick, at Parade field, Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 12, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit, with Laysan albatross chick, at Parade field, Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 12, 2008.
Invasive habit, with Laysan albatross chickPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit, with Laysan albatross chick, at Parade field, Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 12, 2008. ©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 04, 2008.
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 04, 2008.
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 04, 2008.
HabitPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 04, 2008.©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009
SeedheadPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 02, 2008
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 02, 2008
Copyright©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 02, 2008
FlowerheadPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 02, 2008©Forest Starr & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Paspalum urvillei Steud. 1853

Preferred Common Name

  • Vasey grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Paspalum dilatatum var. parviflorum Döll (1877)
  • Paspalum griseum Hack. ex Loefgr (1895)
  • Paspalum griseum Hack. ex M. Corrêa (1909)
  • Paspalum larranagae
  • Paspalum larranagai Arechav. (1894)
  • Paspalum ovatum var. parviflorum Nees (1829)
  • Paspalum ovatus var. parvifolius
  • Paspalum vaseyanum Scribn. (1899)
  • Paspalum vaseyanum var. pubiflorum Langlois (1884)
  • Paspalum velutinum Trin. ex Nees (1829)
  • Paspalum velutinum var. minus E.Fourn
  • Paspalum virgatum var. parviflorum Döll (1877)
  • Paspalum virgatum var. pubiflorum (Vasey 1886)

International Common Names

  • English: giant paspalum
  • Spanish: hierba de Vasey; maizapo; paja boba
  • French: epinard; herbe de Vasey; paspale d'Urville
  • Chinese: si mao que bai

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: capim-arroz; Capim-da-roca; milia-grande
  • Italy: paspalo eretto
  • Japan: tachi-suzume-no-hie
  • Poland: Wlóc Urvilla
  • Portugal: capim-das-estradas

Summary of Invasiveness

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Paspalum urvillei is a well-known weed of agricultural fields and disturbed areas (Randall, 2012), but it has been widely introduced as a forage grass to ecosystems outside South America (Hitchcock, 1936; PIER, 2012; Bowen & Hollinger, 2002). It is now widely naturalized and is able to invade grasslands, shrublands and wetlands. It invades and establishes in highly disturbed natural ecosystems where it grows in dense stands, displacing indigenous vegetation and altering the lower strata (Western Australian Herbarium, 2012). It is listed as invasive in Portugal, Réunion, and the United States (NIISS, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012).

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Paspalum urvilleiSteudel (1853) is a tropical cosmopolitan grass that is native to large parts of South America (ITIS, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012; IPNI, 2012; The Plant List, 2010; GBIF, 2012). It is an erect, rhizomatous, perennial that grows in tufts about 30 cm in diameter with many erect leaf-blades. The base of the stalks and leaf-sheaths is hairy and bluish in color. The flower stalks are 60-200 cm tall, each flower cluster bearing six to 25 spikes (FAO, 2012b).

The common name Vasey grass recognizes the work of George Vasey (1822-1893) who was Chief Botanist of the United States Department of Agriculture and Curator of the U.S. National Herbarium at the Smithsonian Institution (Robinson, 1892). P. urvillei was first collected in Brazil in 1822 by Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (1790–1842), a French naval officer, explorer, botanist and cartographer (D’Urville, 1822). It was first circumscribed by Ernst Gottlieb von Steudel (1783-1856), a German physician and botanist with an expertise in grass species taxonomy.

The genus Paspalum L. (Latin from the Greek, πασπαλος [paspalos] 'millet') is a large, diverse, economically important genus of about 315 - 323 species, although there are references to as many as 1153 individual epithets (Zuloaga, et al. 2004; The Plant List 2010; Chase, 1943).

P. urvillei is taxonomically complicated by its many synonyms. Chase (1943) identified Paspalus ovatus var. parviflorus Nees, Agrost. Bras. 43. 1829 as the type. P. urvillei is often confused taxonomically with Paspalum dilatatum Poir. (1802), dallisgrass, to which it is closely related both morphologically and genetically (Caponio & Quarin, 1990; Chase, 1943). Paspalum vaseyanum Scrib. (Lamson-Scribner), U.S.D.A. Div. Agrost. Bull. 17: 32, f. 328. (1899) is reported as a basonym (Kral et al., 2012).  

Paspalum urvillei Steud., along with the related congeners and hybrids P. dilatatum ssp. flavescens, P. dasypleurum, P. dilatatum 'Virasoro', P. dilatatum 'Vacaria', P. pauciciliatum, P. dilatatum ssp. dilatatum, P. dilatatum 'Chiru', P. dilatatum 'Uruguaiana', and P. dilatatum 'Torres', is included in the Dilatata group of Paspalum (Miz & Souza-Chies, 2006; Speranza, 2009). This group was first proposed by A. Chase in 1929 (Chase, 1943).


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Grass species are notoriously difficult to identify. P. urvillei is a perennial grass that grows in clumps or tufts of a few to many stems growing from a short rootstock. The stems are purplish and hairy at the base but green and smooth towards the top; they are from 0.75 to 2.5 metres tall. The blades are green, vase-shaped, bristly and firm, 12 to 48 cm long (commonly 20 to 30 cm) and 3 to 15 mm wide; rarely, they can be up to 65 cm long and 2 cm wide. The inflorescences are 10-20 cm long, borne on a central axis 4-13 cm long. Each flower cluster bears six to 25 spikes. Four to thirty seedheads, grouped on spreading branches, have paired seeds lined up in 4 rows. Seeds are brown when mature and fringed with fine hairs, and may feel sticky. They characteristically lie on one side of the branch.

Five more detailed descriptions follow:

1) Paspalum urvillei is a perennial bunchgrass with erect, green stems. The stems are hairless, except at the base where they are thickened, hairy, and purplish. Leaf blades are green, 5-22 inches long, and 0.1-0.5 inches in width. The inflorescence is up to 1 foot in length, and is comprised of 4-30 alternately arranged branches, each about 5 inches long. Seeds occur on one side of the branch (Galveston Bay Estuary Program, 2012).

2) A stout erect perennial in clumps of few to many culms, purplish below; culms 75 cm to 2.5 metres tall, simple or branching from the lower, sometimes from the middle nodes, subcompressed, glabrous; nodes glabrous; sheaths keeled toward the summit, the lower loose, coarsely hirsute or glabrescent toward the summit, the upper glabrous or sometimes ciliate on the margin or with a few hairs at the summit, rarely sparsely hirsute, often somewhat auricled; ligule 3 to 5 mm long; blades flat, ascending, relatively firm, 12 to 48 cm, commonly 20 to 30 cm, long, 3 to 15 mm wide, rarely to 65 cm long and 2 cm wide (the uppermost reduced), slightly rounded at base or narrowed to the width of the sheath, densely long-pilose at the very base on the inside, otherwise glabrous, the margin scabrous; panicle erect, 10 to 42 cm long, of 6 to 25, commonly 12 to 18, ascending to slightly drooping racemes, the lower 7 to 14 cm long, the upper gradually shorter, narrowly ascending, the slender common axis angled, glabrous; rachis narrowly winged, about 0.8 mm wide, with a few long hairs at the base, the margin scabrous; spikelets on slender flattened pedicels, imbricate, 2 to 3 mm, commonly 2.2 to 2.7 mm long, 1.2 to 1.5 mm wide (excluding the hairs), ovate, abruptly pointed, depressed plano-convex; glume and sterile lemma equal, pointed beyond the fruit, thin in texture, 3 to 5-nerved, both copiously edged with long silky white hairs, the glume sparsely clothed with appressed silky hairs throughout, the lemma glabrous or nearly so in the middle; fruit 1.8 to 2 mm long, elliptic, pale, nearly smooth (Chase, 1943).

3) P. urvillei is described in the Flora of China as a perennial from a short rootstock. Culms robust, up to 2 m tall, glabrous. Leaf sheaths densely hispid, long hairs at the mouth; leaf blades linear, 15-50 × 0.5-1.5 cm, glabrous or pilose at the base, apex attenuate; ligule 3-5 mm. Inflorescence axis 10-30 cm; racemes 10-25, 8-15 cm, narrowly ascending or suberect; spikelets paired; rachis ca. 0.5 mm wide. Spikelets light green or purplish, ovate, 2-3 mm, sharply acute; upper glume membranous, 3-veined with laterals marginal, appressed-pubescent on back, margins densely fringed with long white hairs; lower lemma similar but glabrous on back; upper lemma elliptic, striate, obtuse (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012).

4) The GrassBase reference at Kew describes the inflorescence of P. urvillei as borne along a central axis; unilateral; 4 13 cm long. Central inflorescence axis is 10 20 cm long. Rhachis narrowly winged; angular; 1 mm wide. Spikelet packing regular; 2 4 -rowed. The spikelets are in pairs. The fertile spikelets of P. urvillei are sessile and pedicelled. It has spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile floret; 1 fertile floret; without rhachilla extension. The spikelets are ovate; dorsally compressed; plano-convex; acute; 2–2.8 mm long; falling entire. The lower glume absent or obscure; reaching apex of florets; thinner than fertile lemma. The upper glume is ovate; 1 length of spikelet; membranous; yellow; without keels; 3-veined. Upper glume surface is pilose. Upper glume margins ciliate. The upper glume apex is acute. The basal sterile florets are barren; without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret similar to upper glume; ovate; 1 length of spikelet; membranous; 3-veined; pilose; acute. Fertile lemma is ovate; gibbous; 2 mm long; indurate; pallid; without keel. Lemma surface is striate. Lemma margins are involute. Lemma apex is obtuse. Palea are involute; indurate (Clayton et al., 2012).

5) P. urvillei is described by PIER  as a densely tufted robust perennial [grass]; culms 1-2 m tall, erect, glabrous, basally thickened; sheaths carinate upwards, lower ones pubescent, purplish; upper ones glabrous, green, 8-27 cm long; ligule very conspicuous (3-) 5-8 (-12) mm long, membranous; blades linear, acute, 12-55 cm long, 4-15 mm wide, flat, hairy at base; panicles 10-40 cm long, of 6-25 crowded racemes, these erect or ascending, 5-13 cm long, apical ones shorter than basal ones; spikelets paired, on rachises about 0.8 mm wide, elliptic ovate, broad, subacute, 2-3 mm long; glume and sterile lemma subequal, slightly apiculate, thin, ovate, 3-nerved, green to greenish-purple, pilose-ciliate; fertile lemma 1.6 mm long (Stone, 1970 in PIER, 2012).


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As well as the individual countries listed in the Distribution table, P. urvillei has been reported in East Africa (Hanelt et al., 2001).

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


ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012
-Hong KongPresentIntroduced Invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012; PIER, 2012
-HunanPresentZeng XianFeng, 2013
-JiangxiPresentZeng and Qiu, 2013
IndiaPresentIntroducedHanelt et al., 2001
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012
JapanPresentIntroduced Invasive Auld et al., 2003; Mito and Uesugi, 2004
-HonshuPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2012
Sri LankaWidespreadIntroducedGBIF, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
TaiwanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2012; GBIF, 2012
VietnamPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012


AngolaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
LiberiaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
MadagascarPresentIntroduced Not invasive CIRAD, 2012species recently introduced and cultivated as fodder
MalawiPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive CIRAD, 2012
MozambiquePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
RéunionPresentIntroduced Invasive NIISS, 2012
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Not invasive GBIF, 2012
SwazilandPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
USAWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Kartesz, 2011; USDA-NRCS, 2012; Weakley, 2012
-AlabamaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Kral et al., 2012
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced Invasive Moore, 1941; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Riefner and Boyd, 2007; Calflora, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-FloridaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Martin, 2002; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-GeorgiaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Zomlefer et al., 2008; Georgia Southern University Herbarium, 2012
-HawaiiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Motooka et al., 2003; PIER, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012
-KansasPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedPetrik-Ott, 1973One specimen collected 1936
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2012
-LouisianaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Langlois, 1884; Louisiana State University Herbarium, 2012
-MississippiWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-MissouriPresentIntroducedKucera, 1998
-North CarolinaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-OklahomaLocalisedIntroducedOklahoma Biological Survey, 2012
-South CarolinaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-TennesseePresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-NRCS, 2012
-TexasWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Loflin and Loflin, 2006; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012;, 2012
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Askew, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012
BelizePresentIntroducedSoreng et al., 2012
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012
HondurasPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012
Puerto RicoWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2012
Windward IslandsPresentIntroducedGould, 1979

South America

ArgentinaWidespreadNative Not invasive Zuloaga et al., 1994; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012; Soreng et al., 2012
BoliviaWidespreadNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012; Soreng et al., 2012
BrazilPresentNative Not invasive D'Urville, 1822; Parodi, 1937; Forzza et al, 2010
-BahiaPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-Espirito SantoPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010
-GoiasPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012Also in Distrito Federal.
-Mato GrossoPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010
-Minas GeraisPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010
-ParanaPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNative Not invasive Burson, 1992; Forzza et al, 2010
-Santa CatarinaPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
-Sao PauloPresentNative Not invasive Forzza et al, 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
ChilePresentGBIF, 2012; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
EcuadorPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2012
French GuianaPresentNativeGBIF, 2012
ParaguayPresentNative Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012
UruguayPresentNative Not invasive Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012


FranceAbsent, invalid recordGBIF entry is incorrect; seee French Guiana for correct location.
PortugalPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
-AzoresPresentIntroduced Invasive DAISIE, 2012
SpainPresentIntroducedLitzler, 1979; Sánchez, 1981; Viera and Vesa, 1990; GBIF, 2012


American SamoaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2012
AustraliaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Auld et al., 2003; Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012; GBIF, 2012; Simon and, 2012
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2012
-Lord Howe Is.PresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2012
-New South WalesWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012; PlantNET, 2012
-QueenslandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2012
-South AustraliaPresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2012
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012
-VictoriaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012
-Western AustraliaWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2012
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
FijiPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
GuamPresentIntroducedStone, 1970
Midway IslandsPresentIntroducedMotooka et al., 2003
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2012
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive GBIF, 2012
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2012
US Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2012

History of Introduction and Spread

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Herbarium records suggest that P. urvillei was introduced to the United States some time after the middle of the 19th century (Langlois, 1884). Hitchcock (1936) notes that it was introduced into the Caribbean as a forage grass.

Risk of Introduction

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There is little evidence of accidental introduction. The number of seeds per kg is 970 000 (FAO, 2012b), making this the most likely pathway for unintentional introduction in hay bales or seed mixes. The ornamental value is limited. The widely held recognition of P. urvillei as an agricultural weed and an invader of natural ecosystems is well documented and should serve to reduce intentional introductions.

Risk of introduction is medium to low.


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Paspalum urvillei grows in savannas and disturbed habitats, often in moist, poorly draining soils that are saturated for more than 50% of the year, although well-drained soils are also suitable. It will tolerate drought conditions for part of the growing season, but requires comparatively high total annual rainfall (preferably 1000-1500 mm). Its roots are shallow (20-50 cm), growing best in medium to heavy soils of moderate fertility. It is best suited for high light conditions. In its native range it is found in tropical climates with suitable rainfall; its introduced range extends into warm temperate climates, again provided that there is sufficient rainfall. It is tolerant of fire, drought, and flooding (FAO, 2012a, b; Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, 2012).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Mangroves Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
Irrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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P. urvillei often acts as an invasive agricultural weed (Randall, 2012). It is also a host of the rice stink bug Oebalus pugnax (Naresh and Smith, 1984), the Mexican rice borer Eoreuma loftini (Bezeulin et al, 2011), and the crop pathogenic bacterium Acidovorax avenae (Saddler, 1984); and it shows allelopathic activity (exudates) that can impact crop systems (Ishimine et al., 1987). Crops affected in one or more ways include rice Oryza sativa (Naresh and Smith, 1984; Bezeulin et al, 2011), sugarcane Saccharum (Bezeulin et al, 2011), maize (Zea mays), the fodder grass Hemarthria altissima (Newman and Sollenberger, 2005), Strelitzia nicolai, Sorghum spp., oats (Avena), millet, pineapples (González-Ibáñez, 1987), apples (Losso and Ducroquet, 1983) and citrus (Phillips & Tucker, 1974). P. urvillei is also an invasive weed of disturbed sites, footpaths, parks, gardens, turf, roadsides, waste areas, wetlands, watercourses (i.e. riparian habitats), open woodlands, closed forests and pastures as well as affecting the abovementioned crops (Queensland Government, 2012; Randall, 2012; Askew, 2012; Weakley, 2011; Quattrocchi, 2006; Motooka et al., 2003).

Biology and Ecology

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P. urvillei is a complex apomictic pentaploid hybrid in the genus Paspalum, Dilatata Group (Chase, 1943; Speranza, 2009).


P. dilatatum Poir and its related species, including P. urvillei, comprise a group of several sexual tetraploid forms and apomictic tetraploids, pentaploids, hexaploids, and heptaploids (Rua et al., 2010; Bashaw et al., 1970; Speranza, 2009; Miz & Souza-Chies, 2006).

2n=40, sexual (Burson, 1992; Rua et al., 2010; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012)

Reproductive Biology

P. urvillei is highly autogamous (Speranza, 2009). As a member of the Poaceae, it is wind-pollinated. With its heavy seed production, the seedbank of P. urvillei is persistent, lasting at least 9 months (Western Australian Herbarium, 2012). The seed (fruit) is 1.8 to 2 mm long, elliptical, pale, and nearly smooth (Chase, 1943). P. urvillei readily crosses with other members of the Dilatata Group in the genus Paspalum (Speranza, 2009).

Physiology and Phenology

P. urvillei is a C4 grass with a high rate of photosynthesis (Grass Phylogeny Working Group II, 2011; Rua et al., 2010; Morgan & Brown, 1979).


P. urvillei is associated with the bacterium Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae (Gnanamanickam, 2006), which causes disease in a wide range of economically important monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants, including maize, rice, watermelon, Anthurium, and orchids.

It has been associated in herbarium accessions with Ludwigia ravenii and Andropogon glomeratus (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2012).

Environmental Requirements

P. urvillei is a high-light, semi-tropical to tropical grass species that thrives in open, heavy soil and disturbed spaces (Queensland Government, 2012). It is killed by heavy grazing (FAO, 2012b). For more information see ‘Notes on Habitat’ section.


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

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
32 32

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 7 22.7
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 32.7
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -7.7


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall10001500mm; lower/upper limits

Notes on Natural Enemies

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P. urvillei has no major diseases (FAO, 2012b).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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P. urvillei is dispersed by water, animals, machinery, vehicles, footwear, contaminated grain and agricultural practices. It spreads both by seed and by rhizome. It may be introduced intentionally as a minor agricultural crop due to its use as a forage grass (FAO, 2012b; Hitchcock, 1936).

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves Yes
True seeds (inc. grain) Yes

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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P. urvillei often acts as an agricultural weed (Randall, 2012) affecting a variety of crops, as a host of pests or pathogens of crops, and as a weed of disturbed sites, footpaths, parks, gardens, turf, roadsides, waste areas, wetlands, riparian habitats, open woodlands, closed forests, and pastures. For more information on this subject, including citations, see the text section ‘Notes On Crops/Other Plants Affected’ and the table ‘Host Plants and Other Plants Affected’.

Environmental Impact

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Although P. urvillei is an occasional food source for some wildlife (Schwartz and Schwartz, 1951), it threatens a number of rare or endangered native species; see the Threatened Species table for more information. In Hawaii, it grows in dense stands along forest trails and roads, displacing native species and becoming a nuisance to hikers on trails (Motooka et al., 2003).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Melicope degeneriNational list(s) National list(s)HawaiiWood, 2011
Rudbeckia auriculataNational list(s) National list(s)GeorgiaDiamond and Boyd, 2004

Social Impact

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The pollen of P. urvillei is mildly allergenic (, 2012).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • 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
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Changed gene pool/ selective loss of genotypes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Hybridization
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field


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Hybrids of P. urvillei with P. dilatatum are among biotypes of agronomic impact for forage production (Machado et al., 2005). Paspalum urvillei is cut for hay in the United States, and the hay is classed as good. It is used as a silage crop in Sri Lanka (FAO, 2012b). It is a minor forage crop in the United States but is generally considered a weed in subtropical coastal Australia, and is not as palatable to grazing animals as other pasture grass species, quickly becoming coarse and avoided by stock (FAO, 2012b).

P. urvillei was among native grasses used to control invasive South African lovegrass, Eragrostis plana, in a study in Brazil (Medeiros and Ferreira, 2011).

P. urvillei is resistant to the toxinogenic fungus Claviceps paspali which infects P. dilatatum used as a forage crop. Current research is investigating hybridization through backcrossing and intercrossing of P. urvilleiwith P. dilatatum to create C. paspali-resistant hybrids (Schrauf et al., 2003).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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P. urvillei may be confused with other Paspalum species of which there are between 320 and around 400 species, mostly from Central and South America. Some of the other species do not have a tufted base, some are not hairy and others with a tufted base generally have more racemes (Chu, 2005).

P. urvillei readily produces interspecific hybrids with other members of the Paspalum group Dilatata; hybrids can be verified by counting the somatic chromosomes in root tips (Burson, 1992). Within the Dilatata group, P. urvillei is readily confused with P. dilatatum ssp. flavescens, P. dasypleurum, P. dilatatum,P. quadrifarium and P. paniculatum.

In South Africa, Chippindall (1955) distinguishes P. urvillei from P. dilatatum by its greater number of racemes (10-18 compared to 3-5) and its smaller spikelets (2-3 mm compared to 3-4 mm).

P. urvillei may be confused with Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers. (Johnsongrass). The two species can be distinguished by P. urvillei's seed heads that tend to droop over like those of P. dilatatum, Dallisgrass, as opposed to those of S. halepense which stay erect and upright on the end of the stem (Gully, 2012).

Prevention and Control

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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.

There is little information about prevention of the spread of P. urvillei.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Newman & Sollenberger (2005) found that continuous grazing for two years decreased P. urvillei cover by 15%; grazing pastures to a 15 cm stubble height increased P. urvillei density while grazing to a 30 cm stubble height decreased its density. Small populations of P. urvillei can be cut out, making sure to remove rhizomes; slashing followed by herbicide treatment is an alternative (Western Australian Herbarium, 2012).

Chemical Control

A formulation of mesotrione, terbutylazine and S-metolachlor has been evaluated as a substitute for atrazine in the control of weeds in sugarcane fields (Seeruttun et al., 2010). A combination of trifluralin and atrazine provided effective control of P. urvillei in newly planted sugarcane fields (Okayama 1989).

Hexazinone and bromacil gave the most effective control of P. urvillei in a study in pineapple crops; fluazifop-butyl and glyphosate demonstrated some efficacy (González-Ibáñez 1987). Glyphosate controlled P. urvillei on railway rights-of-way (González-Ibáñez 1974). FAO (2012b) recommend the use of 2,2-DPA (dalapon) plus paraquat, sprayed three times at 10-day intervals.

P. urvillei is sensitive to imazapyr as well as glyphosate. On Kaua‘i, Hawaii, drizzle application of glyphosate suppressed it on the Nu‘alolo Crossover Trail for 6 months; on the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail suppression by the same method was excellent, with little follow-up treatment needed (Motooka et al. 2003).

In Western Australia, it is recommended to slash and then spray regrowth with grass selective herbicide (Western Australian Herbarium, 2012), using fluazifop-P + wetting agent for follow-up seedling control.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is a need for research on control of P. urvillei, specifically biological control. Further investigation of the impact of varietal crosses on natural systems is necessary. An effort should be made to expand herbaria collections around the world as it is almost certain that the range of P. urvillei is wider than reported. Other aspects of P. urvillei about which there is a lack of information include its environmental tolerances and exactly how it affects other species.


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Links to Websites

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Data Portal of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global Compendium of Weeds
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR)
National Invasive Species Information Center Missouri Botanical Garden


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07/11/12: Original text by:

John Peter Thompson, Consultant, Maryland, USA.

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