Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

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Digitaria fuscescens
(yellow crab grass)

Vélez-Gavilán J, 2016. Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass). Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CABI. DOI:10.1079/ISC.120118.20203483226

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Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass)

Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); habit and typical habitat.
TitleHabit
CaptionDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); habit and typical habitat.
Copyright©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); habit and typical habitat.
HabitDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); habit and typical habitat.©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); close-up of structure and habit.
TitleHabit
CaptionDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); close-up of structure and habit.
Copyright©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); close-up of structure and habit.
HabitDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); close-up of structure and habit.©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); inflorescence.
TitleInflorescence
CaptionDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); inflorescence.
Copyright©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); inflorescence.
InflorescenceDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); inflorescence.©Cyrille Mas/via http://tropical.theferns.info/ - CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); seeds.
TitleSeeds
CaptionDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); seeds.
CopyrightPublic Domain - Released by Jose Hernandez, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.
Digitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); seeds.
SeedsDigitaria fuscescens (yellow crab grass); seeds.Public Domain - Released by Jose Hernandez, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Digitaria fuscescens (J.Presl) Henrard

Preferred Common Name

  • yellow crab grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Digitaria fuscescens (J.Presl) J.W.Moore
  • Digitaria pseudoischaemum Buse
  • Panicum fuscescens J.Presl
  • Panicum pseudo-ischaemum (Buse) Boerl.
  • Paspalum fuscescens J.Presl
  • Paspalum micranthum Desv.
  • Syntherisma fuscescens (J.Presl) Scribn.

International Common Names

  • English: creeping crabgrass; Y grass
  • Portuguese: capim-de-roca; capim-de-vaca

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: cuspo-do-taquarizano; grama-mata-éagua
  • Indonesia: kakawatan; rumput tembagan
  • USA/Hawaii: creeping kukaepua’a

Summary of Invasiveness

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D. fuscescens is an annual, to perennial grass that is a weed of cultivated crops and disturbed soils (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). It is also a weed of turf grass (Uddin et al., 2012). The species is listed as invasive in Asia (Chagos Archipelago), South America (Colombia, Peru) and Oceania (Fiji, French Polynesia, USA-Hawaii) (PIER, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Digitaria is a genus in the Poaceae with about 220 species that are distributed in the tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world (Vega and Rugólo de Agrasar, 2007). The common name crabgrass is applied to many species in the genus. Digitaria comes from Digitus, the Latin word for "finger", referring to the long, finger-like inflorescences produced by the grasses. From the names applied to the species, D. fuscescens (J.Presl) J.W.Moore is an illegitimate name (Quattrocchi, 2006). The specific name fuscescens is New Latin for "blackish", from Latin fuscus, "dark".

Description

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The following description is from PROTA (2016):

Annual, ascending from a creeping base; culms 4–30 cm. high. Leaf-blades 1–5 cm. long, 1–4 mm. wide. Inflorescence of 2–4 (typically 2) digitate racemes; racemes 1–7 cm. long, the spikelets ternate on a ribbon-like winged rachis with low rounded midrib. Spikelets narrowly ovate-elliptic, 1.2–1.6 mm. long; lower glume a minute hyaline rim or absent; upper glume as long as the spikelet, 5-nerved (rarely 3-nerved), glabrous; lower lemma as long as the spikelet, 7-nerved, glabrous; fruit ellipsoid, pallid to light brown.

Plant Type

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Annual
Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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D. fuscescens is mainly present in tropical and subtropical regions (USDA-ARS, 2016). The species is native to India, tropical Asia and Indonesia (PIER, 2016; PROSEA, 2016). In USDA-ARS (2016) it is also listed as native to Bolivia. It is found in Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania (See Distribution Table for details).

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 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedNot common
CameroonPresentIntroduced
GuineaPresentIntroduced
MadagascarPresentIntroduced
MauritiusPresentNative
Sierra LeonePresent, Only in captivity/cultivationIntroduced
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced

Asia

BangladeshPresentIntroduced
British Indian Ocean Territory
-Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedInvasiveDiego García Island
CambodiaPresentNative
ChinaPresentIntroduced
IndiaPresentNative
IndonesiaPresentNative
-JavaPresentNative
-SumatraPresentNative
LaosPresentNative
MalaysiaPresentNative
MyanmarPresentNative
PhilippinesPresentNative
SingaporePresentNative
Sri LankaPresentNative
ThailandPresentNative
VietnamPresentNative

North America

BelizePresentIntroduced
HondurasPresentIntroducedOriginal citation: Vega and Rugólo de Agrasar (2007)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresentIntroduced
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive on Hawai’i Island. Introduced in Kaua’i, Lana’i, Maui, Moloka’I, Ni’ihau, O’ahu Island.

Oceania

Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentNativeChuuk, Pohnpei and Yap Islands.
FijiPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveKandavu, Koro, Mango, Matuku, Mbatiki, Moala, Moturiki, Ngau, Ovalau, Toyota, Vanua Levu and Viti Levu Islands
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasiveRaiatea Island
PalauPresentNativeBabeldaob and Koror Islands
SamoaPresentIntroduced
TongaPresentIntroduced
VanuatuPresentIntroduced
Wallis and FutunaPresentIntroduced

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedFormosa
BoliviaPresentNative
BrazilPresentIntroduced
-AcrePresentIntroduced
-AlagoasPresentIntroduced
-AmapaPresentIntroduced
-AmazonasPresentIntroduced
-BahiaPresentIntroduced
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroduced
-GoiasPresentIntroduced
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroduced
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentIntroduced
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroduced
-ParaPresentIntroduced
-ParanaPresentIntroduced
-PernambucoPresentIntroduced
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroduced
-Rio Grande do NortePresentIntroduced
-RoraimaPresentIntroduced
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroduced
-Sao PauloPresentIntroduced
-TocantinsPresentIntroduced
ColombiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
EcuadorPresentIntroducedLos Ríos
French GuianaPresentIntroducedCayenne
GuyanaPresentIntroduced
ParaguayPresentIntroducedAmambay, Central, Concepción, Cordillera
PeruPresentIntroducedInvasive
SurinamePresentIntroduced
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedAmazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Zulia

History of Introduction and Spread

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Information about the introduction of the species to areas outside its native range and/or its spread is not readily available. Outside its native range, the earliest collections are from the late 1800’s from Hawaii and by the early 1900’s from Brazil (Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). It is reported from Fiji by 1919, misidentified as D. longiflora (Gardner, 2007). Being a weed at crop sites, it is possible that the species has been dispersed unintentionally as a contaminant in agricultural products, through soil or transported by humans (PIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016). Another possible reason for its introduction is to be used for erosion control (PROSEA, 2016).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Fiji 1919 Yes No Gardner (2007) Identified originally as D. longiflora

Risk of Introduction

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There is almost no information available about the introduction, dispersion and biology of the species to properly assess the risk of introduction. It is reported as cultivated outside its native range and used for erosion control (Vega and Rugólo de Agrasar, 2007; PROSEA, 2016; PROTA, 2016). It is also a weed of cultivated fields (PIER, 2016). Although no information is available about the effects on other species or the habitats where it is naturalised, based on its capability of growing in different habitats and spreading vegetatively, D. fuscescens has a medium risk of introduction into tropical areas.

Habitat

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D. fuscescens is a grass species found at beaches, sand dunes, periodically burned grassy savanna, periodically flooding grasslands, forest borders, waste places, field borders, roadsides, hillsides, along trails and in cultivated areas (Rebellato and Nunes da Cunha, 2005; Quattrocchi, 2006; PIER, 2016; PROSEA, 2016; PROTA, 2016). It is found from sea level to about 1350 m elevation (PROSEA, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRocky areas / lava flows Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Natural
LittoralCoastal dunes Present, no further details Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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The species is reported as a weed of crops, including rice fields in Indonesia and Laos (Kosaka et al., 2006; PIER, 2016; PROTA, 2016).

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for D. fuscescens is n=9 (Dujardin, 1979). Accessions of the species are stored in the National Plant Germplasm System (USDA-ARS, 2016).

Reproductive Biology

D. fuscescens reproduces by seeds and vegetatively through creeping stolons (PROSEA, 2016; Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). It is wind pollinated (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Longevity
D. fuscescens is reported as both an annual and a perennial (Uddin et al., 2010; PROTA, 2016).

Associations

D. fuscescens grows in Venezuela on savannas with species of Trachypogon, Curatella, Byrsonima and Bowdichia (Vega and Rugolo de Agrasar, 2005).

Environmental Requirements

Almost no information is available on the environmental requirements of this species. Rebellato and Nunes da Cunha (2005) consider D. fuscescens as a humidity indicator species, appearing only during the rainy months on a flooding grassland in Matto Grosso do Sul, Brazil. It is reported by Uddin et al. (2010) as growing on sand, sandy clay loam, clay and coarse sandy clay; in temperatures of 24-32°C; and with an annual rainfall of 1800 to 2000 mm. The species grows in full sun (Vega and Rugólo de Agrasar, 2002).

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])
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)
31 38

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 32

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7002000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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D. fuscescens is dispersed by water and by stolon fragments (PIER, 2016). It may have been deliberately introduced to some areas for erosion control (PROSEA, 2016).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Breeding and propagationCultivated in Argentina and Sierra Leone Yes Vega and Rugólo de Agrasar (2007); Missouri Botanical Garden (2016)
Crop productionIn rice fields, possibly a seed contaminant Yes Yes Kosaka et al. (2006); PROTA (2016)
DisturbanceWeed in disturbed sites Yes Quattrocchi (2006)
Habitat restoration and improvementRecommended for erosion control Yes Yes PROSEA (2016)
HitchhikerMight be carried unintentionally in clothes, shoes, etc Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Clothing, footwear and possessionsPossibly carried unintentionally in clothes, shoes, etc. Yes
GermplasmStored in the National Plant Germplasm System Yes Yes USDA-ARS (2016)
Land vehiclesMight be carried unintentionally in agricultural machinery Yes
Water Yes PIER (2016)

Impact Summary

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

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad 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
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant

Uses

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D. fuscescens is recommended for erosion control in exposed slopes (PROSEA, 2016).

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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D. fuscescens can be confused with D. longiflora. The spikelets of D. longifolia are conspicuously pilose and the plants are densely cespitose, while in D. fuscescens the spikelets are glabrous to glabrescent and the plants are stoloniferous (Giraldo-Cañas, 2005).

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.

Cultural Control

According to Uddin et al. (2012), D. fuscescens can be controlled in turf grass by a combination of mowing, watering and fertilization; complemented with chemical control. Mowing height should not be low as it will promote weeds in the turf grass. Application of fertilizer at intervals throughout the growing period is recommended and not during dormant or low growth periods as this may encourage weed growth.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Hand pulling and hoeing is recommended for small areas (Uddin et al., 2012).

Chemical control

D. fuscescens can be controlled with a mix of MSMA (monosodium methyl arsenate), dalapon and 2, 4-D (Anon, 1968).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Information about the biology of this species, the environmental requirements and the impacts on habitats or other species is needed for a complete assessment of the invasiveness of the species.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Anon, 1968. General non-selective weed control with monosodium acid methane arsenate (MSMA) based mixtures in rubber plantations., Rubber Research Institute Malaya Plant Bulletin, 95:52-55

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, 2016. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Database. http://www.bishopmuseum.org/collections-3/botany/

Dujardin M, 1979. IOPB chromosome number reports LXIII. , Taxon, 28:275-276

Flora do Brasil, 2016. Brazilian Flora 2020 in construction. http://reflora.jbrj.gov.br/reflora/listaBrasil/ConsultaPublicaUC/ConsultaPublicaUC.do#CondicaoTaxonCP

Gardner R, 2007. Grasses (Gramineae) of the central Pacific Ocean region, Records of the Auckland Museum, 44:43-83

Giraldo-Cañas D, 2005. Las especies colombianas del género Digitaria (Poaceae: Panicoideae:Paniceae)., Caldasia, 27(1):25-87

Giraldo-Cañas D, 2011. Catálogo de la familia Poaceae en Colombia., Darwiniana, 49(2):139-247

Kosaka Y, Takeda S, Sithirajvongsa S, Xaydala K, 2006. Plant diversity in paddy fields in relation to agricultural practices in Savannkhet province, Laos., Economic Botany, 60(1):49-61

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

PIER, 2016. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.htm

PROSEA, 2016. Plant resources of South-East Asia. http://proseanet.org/prosea/eprosea.php

PROTA, 2016. PROTA4U web database. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp

Quattrocchi U, 2006. World dictionary of grasses: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press. 2408 pp..

Rebellato L, Nunes da Cunha C, 2005. Efeito do ‘floxo sazonal mínimo da inundação sobre a composição e estrutura de um campo inundável no Pantanal de Poconé, MT, Brasil., Acta Botanica Brasileira, 19(4):789-799

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://www.theplantlist.org

Uddin K, Juraimi AS, Ismail MR, 2012. Weed management in tropical turfgrass areas: a review., Archives of Biological Sciences, 64(2):597-603

Uddin K, Juraimi AS, Ismail MR, Brosnan JT, 2010. Characterizing weed populations in different turfgrass sites throughout the Klang Valley of western Penninsular Malaysia., Weed Technology, 24(2):173-181

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, USA. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/tax_search.pl

Useful Tropical Plants, 2016. Useful tropical plants database. http://tropical.theferns.info/

Vega AS, Rugólo de Agrasar ZE, 2002. Novedades taxonómicas y sinopsis del género Digitaria (Poaceae: Panicoideae: Paniceae) en Bolivia., Darwiniana, 40(1/4):171-190

Vega AS, Rugólo de Agrasar ZE, 2005. Novedades taxonómicas y sinopsis del género Digitaria (Poaceae, Panicoideae, Paniceae) en Colombia y Venezuela., Darwiniana, 43(1/4):232-267

Vega AS, Rugólo de Agrasar ZE, 2007. Novedades taxonómicas y sinopsis del género Digitaria (Poaceae, Panicoideae, Paniceae) en América Central., Darwiniana, 45(1):92-119

Zerbo I, Bernhardt-Römermann M, Ouédraogo O, Hahn K, Thiombiano A, 2016. Effects of climate and land use on herbaceous species richness and vegetation composition in West African savanna ecosystems. Journal of Botany, vol. 2016, Article ID 9523685, 11 pp. doi:10.1155/2016/9523685

Distribution References

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Flora do Brasil, 2016. Brazilian Flora 2020 in construction., http://reflora.jbrj.gov.br/reflora/listaBrasil/ConsultaPublicaUC/ConsultaPublicaUC.do#CondicaoTaxonCP

Giraldo-Cañas D, 2011. Catalogue of the family Poaceae in Colombia. (Catálogo de la familia Poaceae en Colombia.). Darwiniana. 49 (2), 139-247. http://www.scielo.org.ar/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0011-67932011000200003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=es

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016. Tropicos database., St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/

PIER, 2016. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk., Honolulu, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.htm

PROSEA, 2016. Plant resources of South-East Asia., http://proseanet.org/prosea/eprosea.php

PROTA, 2016. PROTA4U web database., Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp

USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

Zerbo I, Bernhardt-Römermann M, Ouédraogo O, Hahn K, Thiombiano A, 2016. Effects of climate and land use on herbaceous species richness and vegetation composition in West African Savanna ecosystems. Journal of Botany. Article ID 9523685. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jb/2016/9523685/

Contributors

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23/12/2016 Original text by:

Jeanine Vélez-Gavilán, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez

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