Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Moorochloa eruciformis
(sweet signal grass)



Moorochloa eruciformis (sweet signal grass)


  • Last modified
  • 03 January 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Moorochloa eruciformis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sweet signal grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Moorochlora eruciformis is an annual herb, fodder crop and common agricultural weed, native to Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean; it has also been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. Crop seed contaminatio...

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Moorochloa eruciformis (Sm.) Veldkamp

Preferred Common Name

  • sweet signal grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Brachiaria cruciformis Griseb.
  • Brachiaria eruciformis (Sm.) Griseb.
  • Brachiaria isachne (Roth ex Roem. & Schult.) Stapf
  • Echinochloa eruciformis (Sm.) Koch
  • Echinochloa eruciformis (Sm.) Rchb.
  • Milium alternans Bubani
  • Panicum caucasicum Trin.
  • Panicum eruciforme Sm.
  • Panicum isachne Roth
  • Panicum pubinode Hochst. ex A.Rich.
  • Panicum wightii Nees
  • Urochloa eruciformis (Sm.) C. Nelson & Fern. Casas

International Common Names

  • English: signal grass; summer grass; sweet summer grass

Local Common Names

  • China: bi xing cao
  • Cuba: brachiaria
  • France: herbe carapatte
  • India: antu garike hullu; chimpigyan hullu; chinwari; domakalu gaddi; guhria; khariu; loidan suput; sarpot; sarput; seprut; sheput; shimpi; shimpigyan hullu; sipi; tiliya
  • Italy: giavone sottile
  • Mauritius: mehenki
  • Mexico: brizanta
  • Somalia: kulekule
  • South Africa: kgalane; kgolane; khalane; litjiesinjaalgras; litjiesrysgras; soetgras; soetlitjiesrysgras; umfisane; umkraut armgras
  • Spain: pota de gall eruciforme
  • Sudan: um sileika

Summary of Invasiveness

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Moorochlora eruciformis is an annual herb, fodder crop and common agricultural weed, native to Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean; it has also been introduced to the Americas and Oceania. Crop seed contamination is a possible pathway for dispersal of this species. It is reported as invasive in Cuba, Spain and Australia as well as islands in Oceania. Despite this, there is limited information available about the economic and environmental impacts of this species or its dispersal potential.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Brachiaria
  •                                 Species: Moorochloa eruciformis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Since the original publication of Panicum eruciforme Sm. in 1808, the species has been transferred to several genera: Brachiaria by Reichenbach in 1833, Echinochloa by Koch in 1848, Urochloa by Hardy and Fernández Casas in 1998 and most recently to Moorochloa by Veldkamp in 2004. The adaxial spikelet orientation in Brachiaria has been considered a weak morphological character for separation between Brachiaria and Urochloa (Torres González and Morton, 2005). On the other hand, Veldkamp (2004) used upper lemma to discriminate between Urochloa and Moorochloa, the new genus for several annual species previously in the genus Brachiaria, including B. eruciformis. Molecular phylogeny using plastid ndhF sequences and combined analysis with morphological traits for the tribe Paniceae, revealed that Moorochloa is well supported and distinct from the clade that includes Urochloa. The analysis also revealed that Brachiaria should be regarded as a synonym of Urochloa (Morrone et al., 2012). Further work supports the recognition of Moorochloa (Soreng et al., 2015).


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M. eruciformis is an annual terrestrial herb growing up to 45 cm tall and forming dense clusters of 10-60 cm long reclining and slender stems, with softly hairy culms rooting at the lower nodes. Stem internodes are hollow.

The following description is from Stone (1970):

Blades slightly hairy, flat, usually less than 7 cm long and only up to 4.5 mm wide. Panicle 5-7 cm long with several appressed to ascending racemes up to 2.3 cm long; rachis pubescent; spikelets about 2.5 mm long, slightly hairy; first glume tiny (0.3 mm long), nerveless.

The following description is from India Biodiversity Portal (2016):

Erect herbs. Leaves lanceolate, 1.5-5 by 0.3-0.5 cm, pilose, margin scabrid, apex acuminate, sheath 2-4 cm long. Racemes terminal, cylindric, 7-9 cm long, branches triquetrous, winged, scabrid. Spikelet ellipsoid, secund-imbricate, densely pubescent, shortly stipitate; glumes unequal, membranous, lower glume a minute scale, upper glume as long as spikelet, 5-nerved, lower lemma 3-nerved, upper lemma crustaceous, smooth, 3-nerved; stamens 3. Caryopsis ovoid.

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Grass / sedge
Seed propagated


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M. eruciformis is the most widely distributed species of the genus Moorochloa. It is native to Africa, the Mediterranean Region and much of Asia. It has also been introduced to the Americas and Oceania and is probably absent only from the coldest areas of the Northern Hemisphere. In Spain it is recorded as native according to Kumar (2011), however it is also listed as a weed with ‘incipient invasive behaviour’ in Spain (Sanz-Elorza et al., 2001). It is considered invasive in Cuba, Spain, Australia, Fiji, Guam and New Caledonia (Sanz-Elorza et al., 2001; Randall, 2007; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2016).

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


AfghanistanPresentNativePodlech, 2012
BangladeshPresentNativeKumar, 2011
BhutanPresentNativeKumar, 2011
CambodiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
ChinaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-GuizhouPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
East TimorPresentNativeKumar, 2011
IndiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-AssamPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-BiharPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-GoaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-GujaratPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-KarnatakaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-KeralaPresentNativeChandran, 1998; Kumar, 2011
-Madhya PradeshPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-MaharashtraPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-OdishaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-RajasthanPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeKabeer and Nair, 2009; Kumar, 2011
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-West BengalPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-JavaPresentIntroducedVeldkamp, 1996; Veldkamp, 2004
-Nusa TenggaraPresentIntroducedVeldkamp, 1996
IsraelPresentNativeKumar, 2011
JapanPresentIntroducedMito and Uesugi, 2004
JordanPresentNativeKumar, 2011
LaosPresentNativeKumar, 2011
LebanonPresentNativeKumar, 2011
MalaysiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeVeldkamp, 1996
MyanmarPresentNativeKumar, 2011
NepalPresentNativeKumar, 2011
OmanPresentIntroducede-flora of Sultanate of Oman, 2016
PakistanPresentNative Not invasive Kumar, 2011; Afridi et al., 2015Most abundant weed in sugarcane fields in Takht Bhai Mardan
PalestinePresentNativeKumar, 2011
PhilippinesPresentNativeKumar, 2011
Saudi ArabiaPresentNative Not invasive Alsherif et al., 2012Considered for forage in western Saudi Arabia
SingaporePresentNativeKumar, 2011
Sri LankaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
SyriaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
ThailandPresentNativeKumar, 2011
TurkeyPresentNativeKumar, 2011
VietnamPresentNativeKumar, 2011
YemenPresentNativeBrown and Mies, 2012Socotra Island


AngolaPresentNativeAfrican Plant Database, 2016
BotswanaPresentNativeHyde et al., 2016a; Setshogo, 2005
EgyptPresentNativeKumar, 2011
EthiopiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
KenyaPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006
LesothoPresentNativeKobisi, 2005
MadagascarPresentNative Not invasive African Plant Database, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016
MalawiPresentNative Not invasive Clayton et al., 2016
MauritiusPresentIntroducedHolm et al., 1979
MoroccoPresentNative Not invasive Tanji and Taleb, 1997; Kumar, 2011; African Plant Database, 2016
MozambiquePresentNativeBalsinhas, 1983
NamibiaPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006
NigeriaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
SomaliaPresentNativeAfrican Plant Database, 2016
South AfricaPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006; Kumar, 2011
South SudanPresentNativeKumar, 2011
SudanPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006; Elkhawad et al., 2015
SwazilandPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006
TanzaniaPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006
UgandaPresentNativeQuattrocchi, 2006
ZambiaPresentNativeBingham et al., 2016
ZimbabwePresentNativeHyde et al., 2016b

North America

MexicoPresentNativeZuloaga et al., 2008
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedShetler and Orli, 2002Escape
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedTarknishvili, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-TexasPresentIntroduced Not invasive Fox and Hatch, 1996; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroduced Not invasive USDA-NRCS, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
CubaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced Not invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Axelrod, 1999; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedTroncoso and Bacigalupo, 1982Entre Ríos province first record


Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
BulgariaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
CroatiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
CyprusPresentNativeKumar, 2011
FrancePresentNativeKumar, 2011
GreecePresentNativeKumar, 2011
IrelandPresentIntroducedStace, 2010
ItalyPresentNativeKumar, 2011
MacedoniaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
MontenegroPresentNativeKumar, 2011
Russian FederationPresentNative
-Southern RussiaPresentNativeVeldkamp, 2004
SerbiaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
SloveniaPresentNativeKumar, 2011
SpainPresentSanz-Elorza et al., 2001; Kumar, 2011
-Balearic IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive Sanz-Elorza et al., 2001Incipient invasive behaviour
UKPresentIntroducedStace, 2010
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedStace, 2010


AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Randall, 2007Weed of agriculture
-Lord Howe Is.PresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroducedCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive Smith, 1979; PIER, 2016
GuamPresentIntroduced Invasive Stone, 1970; PIER, 2016
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Gargominy et al., 1996; PIER, 2016
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedVeldkamp, 1996; Veldkamp, 2004

History of Introduction and Spread

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M. eruciformis was first introduced to New Caledonia in 1931 for use as a forage crop (Gargominy et al., 1996). It was first recorded in Morocco in 1980, possibly as a result of contaminated crop seed (Tanji and Taleb, 1997). Details of introductions to other countries are not known.


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
New Caledonia 1913 Forage (pathway cause) Yes No Gargominy et al. (1996) First introduction
Morocco 1980 Seed trade (pathway cause) No No Tanji and Taleb (1997) First introduction


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M. eruciformis grows as a weed on agricultural land (Holzner and Numata, 1982; Kumar, 2011). It can also be found in damp areas, along roadsides, ditches and wastelands (Kumar, 2011), Ellnbroek (1987) and Muhammad et al. (2012) report that it occurs in forests and wetlands.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Principal habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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It is a common weed species in cultivated fields, particularly associated with maize, sugarcane and coffee crops (Holzner and Numata, 1982; Blanca et al., 2009; Afridi et al., 2015).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

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There is limited information available about the genetics of M. eruciformis. It is a diploid species, 2n = 18 (Basappa, 1987).


Most of the literature describes M. eruciformis as an annual species. However, Amjad et al. (2015) describe it as a perennial species growing in Pir Nasoora National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, India.


M. eruciformis is an important component of Pinus roxburghii communities in the forest of Kotli hills, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan (Muhammad et al., 2012). These forests are subject to disturbance due mainly to soil erosion, deforestation and over-grazing. Out of 13 plant communities studied, M. eruciformis was found to be dominant in one of these and an associated species in two others. Similar associations have been described in wetland communities in Zambia, Africa (Ellnbroek, 1987; Muhammad et al., 2012).


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

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
45 32

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 4 42


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration47number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall904000mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • acid
  • alkaline

Soil texture

  • heavy

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Dispersal of M. eruciformis occurs primarily by seed.

Accidental Introduction

Crop seed contamination has been suggested as one of the most common dispersal pathways of M. eruciformis, spreading it to agricultural fields in other countries (Afridi et al., 2015).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Disturbance Yes Blanca et al., 2009
Escape from confinement or garden escape Yes Blanca et al., 2009
Forage Yes Blanca et al., 2009
Seed tradeCrop seed contamination Yes Afridi et al., 2015

Environmental Impact

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Although M. eruciformis is an exotic component of the flora throughout the tropics and in some areas outside of the tropics, no details have been published on the ecological consequences of its introduction.

Impact: Biodiversity

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M. eruciformis is recorded as an agricultural weed (Randall, 2012) and is recorded as invasive in Cuba, Spain, Australia, Fiji, Guam and New Caledonia (Sanz-Elorza et al., 2001; Randall, 2007; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012; PIER, 2016). However, no specific impacts on biodiversity have been reported.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture


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M. eruciformis is an important fodder species (Miles et al., 1996; Amjad et al., 2015).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage


  • Erosion control or dune stabilization

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The genus Moorochloa is principally characterized by an ovate or oblong spikelet with an early deciduous upper floret, dorsiventral inflorescence arranged in one-sided racemes, with lower glume adjacent to the rachis. This differs from species in the closely related genus Urochloa, which now includes former Brachiaria species, as they have radiate or bilateral inflorescences, spikelets with the upper floret transversely rugose and are not early deciduous. 

M. eruciformis has much smaller (1.7-2.7 mm) hairy spikelets compared to that of Brachiaria platyphylla (3.5-4.5 mm) and it also has 3-14 racemes compared to 2-6 in B. platyphylla. M. eruciformis has two rows of hairy spikelets whereas Echinochloa colona has clusters of 2-4 sessile spikelets.

Prevention and Control

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M. eruciformis is 95% susceptible to glyphosate in concentrations as low as 0.5 L ha-1, as tested in Australia. However, some glyphosate resistance in M. eruciformis has been documented (Preston, 2018).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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There is limited information available regarding the biology of M. eruciformis. Despite being recorded as invasive in a number of countries, there is also very limited information about the risk of introduction and impacts of this species.


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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. In: Smithsonian Contributions to Botany , 98. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.1192 pp.

African Plant Database, 2016. African Plant Database. Pretoria, South Africa: Conservatoire et jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève and South African National Biodiversity Institute.

Afridi SG, Sultan S, Butt ZA, Ahmad H, 2015. Ecological prevalence of the weed species growing in maize and sugarcane fields of district Mardan, Pakistan. Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences, 7(5), 1-7.

Alsherif, E. A., Ayesh, A. M., Allogmani, A. S., Rawi, S. M., 2012. Exploration of wild plants wealth with economic importance tolerant to difficult conditions in Khulais Governorate, Saudi Arabia. Scientific Research and Essays, 7(45), 3903-3913.

Amjad, M. S., Muhammad Arshad, Rahmatullah Qureshi, 2015. Ethnobotanical inventory and folk uses of indigenous plants from Pir Nasoora National Park, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(3), 234-241. doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(15)30011-3

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Chandran M, 1998. Brachiaria eruciformis (J.E. Sm) Griseb. A new record for Kerala. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society, 95(3), 543-544.

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02/02/17 Original text by:

Augusto C Carvajal Vélez, Consultant, Puerto Rico

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