Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

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Paspalum urvillei
(Vasey grass)

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Datasheet

Paspalum urvillei (Vasey grass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 15 December 2021
  • 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, but it has been widely introduced as a forage grass to ecosystems outside its native range in South America. It is now widely naturalized and is able to in...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
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 & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
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 & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 04, 2008.
TitleHabit
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Habit at the fire station, Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 04, 2008.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
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 & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009
TitleSeedhead
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Seedhead. Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida, USA. September 25, 2009
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2009. CC-BY-3.0
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 & Kim Starr Images-2009. CC-BY-3.0
Paspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll.  June 02, 2008
TitleFlowerhead
CaptionPaspalum urvillei (vasey grass). Flowerhead at Flag field Sand Island, Midway Atoll. June 02, 2008
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
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 & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Paspalum urvillei Steud.

Preferred Common Name

  • Vasey grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Paspalum dilatatum var. parviflorum Döll
  • Paspalum griseum Hack. ex Loefgr
  • Paspalum griseum Hack. ex M. Corrêa
  • Paspalum larranagae Arechav.
  • Paspalum ovatum var. parviflorum Nees
  • Paspalum vaseyanum Scribn.
  • Paspalum virgatum var. parviflorum Döll
  • Paspalum virgatum var. pubiflorum (Vasey)

International Common Names

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

Local Common Names

  • Australia: tall paspalum; Vasey’s grass
  • Brazil: capim-arroz; capim-da-roca; milia-grande
  • Cook Islands: tinikarāti
  • Dominican Republic: yerba Vasey
  • Italy: paspalo eretto
  • Japan: tachi-suzume-no-hie
  • Mauritius: herbe cheval; herbe codaya
  • Mexico: pasto macho; pasto Vasey
  • New Caledonia: paspalum géant
  • Poland: wlóc Urvilla
  • Portugal: capim-das-estradas
  • Réunion: gros chiendent

Summary of Invasiveness

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Paspalum urvillei is a well-known weed of agricultural fields and disturbed areas, but it has been widely introduced as a forage grass to ecosystems outside its native range in South America. 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, especially in humid forests. The species is listed as invasive in Hong Kong, Japan, Réunion, USA, Cuba, American Samoa, Australia, Cook Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand and the US Minor Outlying Islands.

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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The genus Paspalum (from the Greek, πασπαλος [paspalos] 'millet') is a large, diverse, economically important genus in the Poaceae, of about 315-323 species, although there are references to as many as 1153 individual epithets (Chase, 1929; Zuloaga et al., 2004The Plant List, 2013). Most of the species are native to the Americas, with a few from Africa, Asia and Oceania; several being valuable forage grasses (Rua et al., 2010).

Paspalum urvillei is taxonomically complicated by its many synonyms. Chase (1929) identified Paspalus ovatus var. parviflorus as the type for the species. P. vaseyanum is reported as a basonym (Kral et al., 2012). P. griseum and P. velutinum are invalid names reported for P. urvillei (The Plant List, 2013).

The common name Vasey grass recognizes the work of George Vasey (1822-1893) who was the Chief Botanist of the United States Department of Agriculture and Curator of the US 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.

Description

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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.

The following description is from Chase (1929):

A stout erect perennial in clumps of few to many culms, purplish below; culms 75 cm to 2.5 m 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.

Plant Type

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Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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Paspalum urvillei is a tropical cosmopolitan grass that is native to large parts of South America (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; GBIF, 2012; IPNI, 2012; ITIS, 2013Missouri Botanical Garden, 2018) and widely introduced in tropical and subtropical regions mainly as a forage grass.

Reports of its native distribution are varied, some reporting it as only native to the south of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina (Hanelt, 2018), others with a wider native distribution including Bolivia and Chile (USDA-ARS, 2018).

It is present in Asia, Africa, North America, Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Oceania (See the Distribution Table for details; Hanelt, 2018; Auld et al., 2003Mito and Uesugi, 2004; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; CIRAD, 2018; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2018; PIER, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

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.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AngolaPresentIntroduced
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentIntroduced
EswatiniPresentIntroduced
LiberiaPresentIntroduced
MadagascarPresentIntroducedspecies recently introduced and cultivated as fodder
MalawiPresentIntroduced
MauritiusPresentIntroducedInvasive
MozambiquePresentIntroduced
RéunionPresentIntroducedInvasive
Saint HelenaPresentIntroduced
South AfricaPresentIntroduced
ZimbabwePresentIntroduced1919

Asia

ChinaPresentIntroduced
-FujianPresentIntroduced
-HunanPresentIntroduced
-JiangxiPresentIntroduced
Hong KongPresentIntroduced1973Invasive
IndiaPresentIntroduced
IndonesiaPresentIntroduced
-JavaPresentIntroduced
JapanPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Bonin IslandsPresentIntroduced
-HonshuPresentIntroducedInvasive
MalaysiaPresentIntroduced
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced
Sri LankaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
TaiwanPresentIntroduced1963
VietnamPresentIntroduced

Europe

FranceAbsent, Invalid presence record(s)GBIF entry is incorrect; seee French Guiana for correct location.
ItalyPresentIntroduced
PortugalPresentIntroduced
-AzoresPresentIntroducedInvasive
SpainPresentIntroduced
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedFirst reported: 1980's

North America

BahamasPresentIntroduced1973Additions to the Flora of Bahamas
BelizePresentIntroduced
BermudaPresentIntroduced
Costa RicaPresentIntroduced
CubaPresentIntroduced1926Invasive
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced
GuatemalaPresentIntroduced
HaitiPresentIntroduced
HondurasPresentIntroduced
MartiniquePresentIntroduced
MexicoPresentIntroducedAguascalientes, Baja California, Chiapas, Coahuila, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Morelos, Nuevo León
Puerto RicoPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
United StatesPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-AlabamaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1899
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedInvasive
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-FloridaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-GeorgiaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1893Invasive
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1914
-KansasPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced1936One specimen collected 1936
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedInvasive
-LouisianaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1893Invasive
-MississippiPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1896Invasive
-MissouriPresentIntroduced
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced
-North CarolinaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-OklahomaPresent, LocalizedIntroduced
-South CarolinaPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1905Invasive
-TennesseePresentIntroducedInvasive
-TexasPresent, WidespreadIntroduced1886Invasive
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced1939Invasive

Oceania

American SamoaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveManu’a and Tutuila Islands
AustraliaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-Lord Howe IslandPresentIntroduced
-New South WalesPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-Northern TerritoryPresentIntroduced
-QueenslandPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced
-TasmaniaPresentIntroducedInvasive
-VictoriaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
-Western AustraliaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasive
Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedMangaia and Rarotonga Islands
FijiPresentIntroducedViti Levu Island
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced
GuamPresentIntroducedAlso cultivated
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveAlso cultivated
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1935InvasiveMain island; Kermadec and Raoul Islands
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroduced
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroduced
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced
U.S. Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroduced
-Midway IslandsPresentIntroduced

South America

ArgentinaPresent, WidespreadNative
BoliviaPresent, WidespreadNative
BrazilPresentNative
-BahiaPresentNative
-Espirito SantoPresentNativeOriginal citation: Forzza et al (2010)
-GoiasPresentNativeAlso in Distrito Federal.
-Mato GrossoPresentNativeOriginal citation: Forzza et al (2010)
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentNativeOriginal citation: Forzza et al (2010)
-Minas GeraisPresentNativeOriginal citation: Forzza et al (2010)
-ParanaPresentNative
-Rio de JaneiroPresentNative
-Rio Grande do SulPresentNative
-Santa CatarinaPresentNative
-Sao PauloPresentNative
ChilePresentNative
ColombiaPresentNative
EcuadorPresentNative
French GuianaPresentNative
ParaguayPresentNative
UruguayPresentNative

History of Introduction and Spread

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Paspalum urvillei has been introduced in many countries to be used as a forage grass (Hitchcock, 1936; FAO, 2012b). Herbarium records suggest that P. urvillei was introduced to the United States sometime after the middle of the 19th century (Langlois, 1884). Hitchcock (1936) notes that it was introduced into the Caribbean as a forage grass. There are records of the species from the 1920s from Cuba (Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2018). According to Hitchcock (1934), P. urvillei was introduced by the British into South Africa and Australia in the 1920s under the name P. virgatum, which is the cause of much confusion in the agricultural literature. The species has spread partly unintentionally through its use as a forage grass.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Hong Kong 1973 Forage (pathway cause) No Yes Corlett (1992)
Cuba 1926 Forage (pathway cause) No Yes Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (2018) Information from herbarium specimen
Bahamas 1973 Forage (pathway cause) No Yes Gillis et al. (1973) An addition to the Flora of the Bahamas
USA 1886 Forage (pathway cause) No Yes Missouri Botanical Garden (2018)
New Zealand 1935 Forage (pathway cause) No Yes NZPCN (2018)

Risk of Introduction

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Paspalum urvillei is a perennial grass native to South America and widely introduced as a forage species in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world (FAO, 2012b; ISSG, 2018). It has a medium risk of introduction. 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. There is little evidence of accidental introduction and its ornamental value is limited. 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.

Habitat

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Paspalum urvillei is a perennial grass of tropical areas. It is reported as growing in savannahs, disturbed areas, humid forests, roadsides, forest margins, closed forests, footpaths, parks, lawns, gardens, farmlands, ditches, swales, streambeds, wetlands, brackish waters, margins of lakes and meadows (Motooka et al., 2003; Quattrocchi, 2006; Riefner and Boyd, 2007; CONABIO, 2010; Askew, 2012; FAO, 2012a; Randall, 2012; Weakley, 2012; Catasús Guerra, 2015; Weeds of Australia, 2016; PIER, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedIndustrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
LittoralMangroves Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Natural
FreshwaterIrrigation channels Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
FreshwaterRivers / streams Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
FreshwaterRivers / streams Present, no further details Natural
BrackishEstuaries Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
BrackishEstuaries Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Paspalum 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 (Beuzelin et al., 2011) and the crop pathogenic bacterium, Acidovorax avenae (Saddler, 1994); 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, 1984Beuzelin et al., 2011), sugarcane, Saccharum (Beuzelin et al., 2011), maize (Zea mays), the fodder grass, Hemarthria altissima (Newman and Sollenberger, 2005), Strelitzia nicolaiSorghum spp., oats (Avena), millet, pineapples (Ananas comosus) (González-Ibáñez, 1987), apples (Malus domestica) (Losso and Ducroquet, 1983) and citrus (Phillips and Tucker, 1974).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Ananas comosus (pineapple)BromeliaceaeOther
Avena (oats)PoaceaeOther
Hemarthria altissima (limpograss)Main
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeOther
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
SaccharumPoaceaeMain
SorghumPoaceaeOther
Strelitzia nicolaiStrelitziaceaeOther
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Paspalum dilatatum and its related species, including P. urvillei, comprise a group of several sexual tetraploid forms and apomictic tetraploids, pentaploids, hexaploids and heptaploids (Bashaw et al., 1970; Miz and Souza-Chies, 2006; Speranza, 2009; Rua et al., 2010) Molecular studies using RAPD and SSR markers showed less genetic diversity than expected among accessions of P. urvillei from the south of Brazil and Argentina (Sawasato et al., 2008). Nevertheless, the authors were able to find difference among regions in Brazil that could be used for designing crossing strategies in breeding programs of P. urvillei. The chromosome number reported for the species is reported as 2n=40 (Burson, 1992Rua et al., 2010). Germplasm collections are available at various institutions (USDA-ARS, 2018).

Paspalum urvillei readily crosses with other members of the Dilatata group in the genus Paspalum (Speranza, 2009). It has been crossed for example, with P. dasypleurum as a means to improve the species use (Quarín and Caponio, 1995).

Reproductive Biology

Paspalum urvillei is highly autogamous (Speranza, 2009). As a member of the Poaceae, it is wind-pollinated. It reproduces both by seed and by rhizomes (Hitchcock, 1936; FAO, 2012b). It has heavy seed production (970,000 seeds per kg) and a persistent seedbank, lasting at least 9 months (FAO, 2012b; Western Australian Herbarium, 2012). The seed (fruit) is 1.8 to 2 mm long, elliptical, pale and nearly smooth (Chase, 1929). The seed germination is reported at 80%, with seed scarification at 23/09ºC, 12/12-hour period (PROTA, 2018).

Physiology and Phenology

Paspalum urvillei is a C4 grass with a high rate of photosynthesis (Morgan and Brown, 1979Rua et al., 2010; Grass Phylogeny Working Group II, 2012).

Associations

Paspalum urvillei is associated with the bacterium Acidovorax avenae subsp. avenae (Gnanamanickam, 2006; Seijo and Peres, 2011), which causes disease in a wide range of economically important plants, including maize (Zea mays), rice (Oryza sativa), watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), Anthurium and orchids. It has been associated in herbarium accessions with Ludwigia ravenii and Andropogon glomeratus (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2018).

Environmental Requirements

Paspalum urvillei grows 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 (CONABIO, 2010; FAO, 2012a, b; Department of Primary Industries, 2018). It is killed by heavy grazing (FAO, 2012b). It can grow in low nutrient soils and in coastal areas with brackish waters with low salinity (Eleuterius and McDaniel, 1978; PlantNET, 2018).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
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)
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
39 44

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 7 30
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 32.7
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) -7.7

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall10002500mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Bimodal
Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • saline

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The following pests and diseases are reported as affecting P. urvillei: the fungi Tilletia rugispora, Claviceps spp.; the insects Chalcodermus aeneus, Eoreuma loftini, Achurum sumichrasti, Rhynchomitra microrhina and Zacompsia fulva (Genung and Weems, 1974; Hardy, 1988; Sudbrink et al., 1998; Piepenbring, 2002; Hilliard and Thompson, 2004; Hummel et al., 2010; Wilson and Wheeler, 2010).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Paspalum urvillei is dispersed by water and wind (Hitchcock, 1936; FAO, 2012bCatasús Guerra, 2015). Turril (1951) reports the presence of seeds of P. urvillei in insect traps released as various altitudes from an airplane.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Paspalum urvillei seed dispersal is reported by animals such as waterfowls and feral pigs (Powers et al., 1978; Aplet et al., 1991).

Accidental Introduction

Paspalum urvillei is dispersed in machinery, vehicles, footwear, contaminated grain and agricultural practices (Hitchcock, 1936; FAO, 2012b). It is also reported as present in hay bales and seed mixes (FAO, 2012b).

Intentional Introduction

Paspalum urvillei has been introduced intentionally as a minor agricultural crop due to its use as a forage grass (Hitchcock, 1936; FAO, 2012bHanelt, 2018).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagationFor pasture grass Yes Yes Hitchcock (1936); FAO (2012b); Hanelt (2018)
Crop productionWidely introduced as a pasture grass around the world Yes Yes Bowen and Hollinger (2002); Randall (2012)
Digestion and excretionConsumed by animals Yes Powers et al. (1978); Aplet et al. (1991)
Disturbance Yes PROTA (2018)
Escape from confinement or garden escapePossible from its use as a pasture grass
ForageWidely introduced as a pasture grass around the world Yes Yes Bowen and Hollinger (2002); Randall (2012)
HitchhikerMostly related to agricultural practices Yes Yes Hitchcock (1936); FAO (2012b)
Horticulture Yes
Interconnected waterwaysPossibly as it is reported as water dispersed Yes Hitchcock (1936); FAO (2012b)
Off-site preservation Germplasm preservation at various facilities Yes Yes USDA-ARS (2018)
Ornamental purposes Yes
Seed trade Yes B & T World Seeds (2012)

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

Economic Impact

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Paspalum urvillei often acts as an agricultural weed (Randall, 2012) affecting a variety of crops, as a host of pests or pathogens of crops. It also has allelopathic activity (exudates) that can impact crop systems (Ishimine et al., 1987).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Paspalum urvillei invades grasslands, scrublands and wetlands forming dense stands and having a major effect over the lower strata of these habitats (Department of Primary Industries, 2018). It is also regarded as ‘too tussocky to control erosion’ at wetlands in Australia. 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).

Impact on Biodiversity

Paspalum urvillei invades grasslands, scrublands and wetlands, displacing the native vegetation, specially of lower strata (Department of Primary Industries, 2018). The species establishment at wetlands in Puerto Rico is considered as an impediment to their restoration (JD Ackerman, University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras, personal communication, March 30, 2018).

Although P. urvillei is an occasional food source for some wildlife (Schwartz and Schwartz, 1951a, b), it threatens a number of rare or endangered native species. It is reported as affecting the habitats of Melicope degeneri and Rudbeckia auriculata (Diamond and Boyd, 2004; Wood, 2011).

Threatened Species

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

Social Impact

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

Risk and Impact Factors

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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
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Causes allergic responses
  • 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
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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Economic Value

Paspalum 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. urvillei with P. dilatatum to create C. paspali-resistant hybrids (Schrauf et al., 2003).

Social Benefit

Hybrids of P. urvillei with P. dilatatum are among biotypes of agronomic impact for forage production (Machado et al., 2005). P. 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).

Environmental Services

Paspalum urvillei was among native grasses used to control invasive South African lovegrass, Eragrostis plana, in a study in Brazil (Medeiros and Ferreira, 2011). It is used for nesting by the red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) in the USA (Brown and Goertz, 1978). It is reported as consumed by the barred dove (Geopelia striata), the wood duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and pheasant bird species in Hawaii (Schwartz and Schwartz, 1951a, b; Schwartz and Schwartz, 1953). It is also used as a food source by the hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus), the fulvous harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys fulvescens) and the rice rat (Oryzomys palustris) in the USA (Kincaid and Cameron, 1982).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Wildlife habitat

Genetic importance

  • Gene source

Ornamental

  • Potted plant

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Paspalum 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 is often confused taxonomically with P. dilatatum, dallisgrass, to which it is closely related both morphologically and genetically (Chase, 1929; Caponio and Quarin, 1990). 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 colour. The flower stalks are 60-200 cm tall, each flower cluster bearing six to 25 spikes (FAO, 2012b). 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).

Paspalum 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 subsp. flavescensP. dasypleurumP. dilatatum, P. quadrifarium and P. paniculatum.

Paspalum urvillei may be confused with Sorghum halepense (Johnsongrass). The two species can be distinguished by seed heads of P. urvillei 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).

Paspalum urvillei is also similar to other closely-related grasses occurring in Australia, including P.quadrifarium, P. mandiocanum, P. notatum and P. scrobiculatum. These species can be distinguished by the following differences, as reported in Weeds of Australia (2016): P. quadrifarium is a tall grass (1-2 m tall) with relatively narrow leaves (4-9 mm across). Its relatively small flower spikelets (2-3 mm long) do not have long silky hairs on their margins and its seed heads usually have 15-25 branches (i.e. racemes). P. mandiocanum is a low-growing grass (less than 1 m tall) with relatively broad leaves (up to 20 mm across). Its relatively small flower spikelets (2-2.5 mm long) do not have long silky hairs on their margins and its seed heads usually have only 3-10 branches (i.e. racemes). P. notatum is a low-growing grass (usually less than 60 cm tall) with relatively narrow leaves (up to 10 mm across). Its relatively large flower spikelets (2.75-4 mm long) do not have long silky hairs on their margins and its seed heads usually have only two branches (i.e. racemes). P. scrobiculatum is a moderate-sized grass (usually 0.5-1.5 m tall) with relatively narrow leaves (3-12 mm across). Its relatively small flower spikelets (2-2.5 mm long) do not have long silky hairs on their margins and its seed heads usually have only 2-7 branches (i.e. racemes).

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.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Newman and Sollenberger (2005) found that continuous grazing for 2 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).

Biological Control

Shabana et al. (2010) found that a triple-pathogen bioherbicide system containing Drechslera gigantea, Exserohilum longirostratum and E. rostratum [Setosphaeria rostrata] is effective for the control of grasses, including P. urvillei.

Chemical Control

A formulation of mesotrione, terbuthylazine 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 (Ananas comosus) 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) recommends the use of 2,2-DPA (dalapon) plus paraquat, sprayed three times at 10-day intervals.

Paspalum 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.

References

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PIER, 2012. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk., Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

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Rojas-Sandoval J, Acevedo-Rodríguez P, 2015. Naturalization and invasion of alien plants in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Biological Invasions. 17 (1), 149-163. http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10530-014-0712-3/fulltext.html DOI:10.1007/s10530-014-0712-3

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Weakley AS, 2012. Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States., Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA: University of North Carolina. 1072 pp. http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm

Zeng XianFeng, 2013. Three newly recorded invasive plants of Hunan Province. Guizhou Agricultural Sciences. 86-87, 90.

Zeng XianFeng, Qiu HeYuan, 2013. Two newly recorded invasive plants of Jiangxi Province. Guizhou Agricultural Sciences. 107-108.

Zomlefer W B, Giannasi D E, Bettinger K A, Echols S L, Kruse L M, 2008. Vascular plant survey of Cumberland Island National Seashore, Camden County, Georgia. Castanea. 73 (4), 251-282. DOI:10.2179/08-003R1.1

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Data Portal of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)http://data.gbif.org/welcome.htm
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationshttp://www.fao.org/
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global Compendium of Weedshttp://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/pw/weed/global-compendium-weeds.pdf
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR)http://www.hear.org/
National Invasive Species Information Centerhttp://www.iinvasivesinfo.gov/
Tropicos - Missouri Botanical Gardenhttp://tropicos.org/Home.aspx

Contributors

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01/04/18 Update by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, Puerto Rico

07/11/12: Original text by:

John Peter Thompson, Consultant, Maryland, USA.

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