Chloris barbata (purpletop chloris)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Chloris barbata Sw., 1797
Preferred Common Name
- purpletop chloris
Other Scientific Names
- Andropogon barbatus L., 1771, non L., 1759
- Chloris inflata Link, 1821
- Chloris longifolia Steud., 1854
- Chloris paraguayensis Steud., 1854
- Chloris refuscens Steud., 1854, non Lag., 1805
International Common Names
- English: peacock plumegrass; plush grass; purple top; swollen fingergrass
- Spanish: zacate borrego
Local Common Names
- Cuba: pata de gallina
- Indonesia: rumput jejarongan; suket cakar ayam
- Japan: murasaki-higeshiba
- Malaysia: kilen
- Philippines: banuko; korokorosan
- Sri Lanka: kondai pul; mayuru tana
- Thailand: yaa rangnok
- USA/Hawaii: mau'u lei
- CHRBA (Chloris barbata)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Chloris
- Species: Chloris barbata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page C. barbata belongs to the tribe Chlorideae (Poaceae).
C. barbata is based on Andropogon barbata which is an illegitimate name, being a later homonym of A. barbatus, the names being based on different plants. The epithet barbata is not, however, illegitimate in the genus Chloris and Swartz was perfectly in order in calling his plant C. barbata, there being no other epithet available. As the citation C. barbata is ambiguous, the Code permits us to forget that Linnaeus made the illegitimate combination. Thus, C. barbata is regarded as a new name dating from 1797 and should be cited without acknowledgement to Linnaeus (Bor, 1960; Cope, 1982). Chloris inflata, a name often applied to this species, is predated by C. barbata.
DescriptionTop of page C. barbata is a tufted, erect, annual or short-lived perennial grass. It is 0.3-1.0 m or more tall, largely glabrous, with a short life span, heading and flowering all year round. The erect and branching stems, which are sometimes bent at the base, are smooth and usually flattened. They are purple or pink at the base, simple or branched, 3-5-noded, rooting at the lower nodes.
The leaf blades are flat and narrow, linear-lanceolate, 10-20 cm long (the upper ones shorter), 2-3 mm wide and usually bluish-green with rough edges. They often have long, scattered hairs on the upper surface, near the base. The sheaths are smooth and 2-6 cm long; usually less than half as long as the internodes. They are compressed, keeled and closely overlapping, with glabrous or bearded orifice. The ligule is 0.5-1.0 mm long, membraneous and fringed with short hairs.
Terminal, composed of a whorl of 5-15 digitate spikes which are densely clustered. The spikes are usually ascending, purple and 5-8 cm long with three-flowered spikelets (one fertile flower). These are purplish and densely overlapping, with three slender awns. The glumes are unequal, narrow, acute and membraneous except for a single green nerve. The first is 1-1.5 mm long and the second 2-2.5 mm long. There are almost always three florets which are often purple. The rachilla internode is 1 mm long. The lemmas are three-nerved. The first lemma is obovate, keeled and 2-2.5 mm long. It is sparsely to densely pilose on the margins and the keel. The awn is 5-10 mm long. The palea is 2-2.5 mm long and nearly as broad as the lemma with marginal keels. The apical rudiment is approximately 1 mm long and consists of two inflated, triangular-truncate, thin, glabrous, sterile lemmas, one within the other, each with an awn 3-5 mm long.
Chromosome number: 2n = 20.
C. barbata grain is pale brown, tapering at both ends and 1-2 mm long, enclosed within the persistent lemma and palea.
C. barbata is propagated by seed.
DistributionTop of page The origin of C. barbata is uncertain. Bor (1960) states that it is distributed through the "tropics of South-East Asia, introduced elsewhere (but considered to be native in Tropical America". Other floras simply accept that it is now widely distributed in tropical and some subtropical regions of all continents, with the possible exception of southern Africa.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Cambodia||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|China||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|-Hong Kong||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|India||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Indonesia||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Iran||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Korea, DPR||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Malaysia||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Philippines||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Sri Lanka||Present||Clayton et al., 1994|
|Thailand||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Vietnam||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Benin||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Côte d'Ivoire||Present||Clayton, 1972|
|Egypt||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Ghana||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Kenya||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Mauritius||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Nigeria||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Sudan||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Tanzania||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Mexico||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|USA||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|-Hawaii||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|-Louisiana||Present||Macgregor and Allen, 1990|
Central America and Caribbean
|Cuba||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012|
|Jamaica||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Lesser Antilles||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Puerto Rico||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|Argentina||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Bolivia||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Brazil||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Colombia||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Peru||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Venezuela||Present||Hafliger and Scholz, 1981|
|Australia||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|-Queensland||Present||Stanley and Ross, 1989|
|Fiji||Present||Holm et al., 1979|
|French Polynesia||Present||Whistler, 1994|
|Marshall Islands||Present||Taylor, 1950|
|Papua New Guinea||Present||Henty, 1969|
|Samoa||Present||Sauerborn and Sauerborn, 1984; Whistler, 1994|
HabitatTop of page C. barbata is possibly native to tropical America but is now widespread at low altitudes throughout the tropics. It prefers dry conditions and is common in coastal areas. It is a common weed in Mexico, South America, the West Indies, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka. In the Hawaiian islands, it is a common species in the arid coastal zone (Sohmer and Gustafson, 1987). It is found in dryland field crops, pastures, sugarcane, wastelands, abandoned cultivation, railway embankments, roadsides, borders of plantation crops and on levees in lowland rice fields.
In South-East Asia, it occurs in lowland ricefields, lawns, by roadsides and railway tracks and similar disturbed situations. It tends to be saline tolerant and is common in desert pans and littoral areas and on the fringes of salt meadows and mangrove swamps (Lazarides, 1980).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Carica papaya (pawpaw)||Caricaceae||Main|
|Cocos nucifera (coconut)||Arecaceae||Other|
|Coffea arabica (arabica coffee)||Rubiaceae||Main|
|Macadamia ternifolia (Queensland nut)||Proteaceae||Main|
|Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)||Solanaceae||Main|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Main|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Main|
Biology and EcologyTop of page C. barbata appears to vary considerably in its habit in different parts of the world, being variously described as annual or perennial and erect or stoloniferous and rooting at the nodes. It presumably propagates mainly by seed, but information on germination biology is not available. As noted under Habitat, it is a plant of relatively dry conditions, often near the coast and apparently tolerant of saline conditions.
C. barbata is a host of a number of rice insect pests and diseases, including the white-backed planthoppers, Sogatella furcifera (Vaidya and Kalode, 1982; Catindig et al., 1988, 1991) and Sogatodes pusanus [Tagosodes pusanus] (Catindig et al., 1989), the rice bug Leptocorisa oratorius (Rajapakse and Kulasekera, 1980), the rice earcutting caterpillar Mythimna separata (Catindig et al., 1991, 1994), the rice-feeding tiger moth Creatonotus gangis (Catindig et al., 1991, 1993), the cereal thrips Haplothrips ganglbaurei (Ananthakrishnan and Thangavelu, 1976), the rice whitefly Aleurocybotus indicus (Alam, 1989), and sheath blight Rhizoctonia solani [Thanatephorus cucumeris] (Kannaiyan and Prasad, 1979). It is also an ovipositional host of the rice leaffolder, Cnaphalocrocis medinalis (Barrion et al., 1991).
It is also the principal alternative host of the grass seed-feeding thrips, Chirothrips mexicanus, which infests the cultivated crop pearl millet, Pennisetum typhoides [Pennisetum glaucum] (Ananthakrishnan and Thirumalai, 1977).
ImpactTop of page C. barbata is reported as a serious weed in Australia, Korea and Thailand, a principal weed in Cambodia and India, and a common weed in Hawaii, Malaysia and the Sudan (Holm et al., 1979). It was a serious weed of sugarcane in Hawaii before trifluralin was used for control (Santo, personal communication).
C. barbata is a common weed in sugarcane, tree crops (papayas, macadamia nuts, coffee) and lawns in Hawaii (R.K. Nishomoto, University of Hawaii, personal communication) and occurs in groundnuts in India (Rajan et al., 1981) and tobacco in the Philippines (Pancho and Obien, 1983) and Thailand (Suwanarak et al., 1986). It occurs infrequently in coconut plantations in the northern Marshall Islands (Taylor, 1950).
It has been reported as a weed of upland rice in India, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam, of dry-seeded rice in India and Thailand, of wet-seeded rice (sprouted seeds sown on puddled soil) in Thailand, and of transplanted rice in India and the Philippines. It has also been reported as occurring in rice seedling nurseries in Thailand and in lowland rice in Indonesia (Moody, 1989).
Yield losses of up to 20% in sugarcane are likely with heavy infestations of C. barbata. On Oahu, Hawaii, C. barbata developed resistance to herbicides and eventually entire fields were infested with high populations of C. barbata up to 1.5 m tall. In some cases, where sugarcane growth was poor, infestations were so severe that the crop was ploughed under and the field replanted (LT Santo, Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, personal communication).
Fresh root extracts of C. barbata collected from South Arcot, Tamil Nadu, inhibited growth of ragi (Eleusine coracana) seeds (Jeyamurthy and Lakshmanachary, 1989).
C. barbata is grazed by stock when young but it soon becomes unpalatable and, thereafter, it is a pest (Whitney et al., 1939). According to Henty (1969), it is useless for grazing. The purplish, feathery-looking spikes are used in hat leis in Hawaii (Neal, 1965).
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page C. barbata is recognized by a combination of characteristics, such as its loosely appressed spikes, three flowers, three-awned spikelet which is often purple, almost entire lemmas with subequal awns and the inflated truncate lemmas of the imperfect florets. The lowest (fertile) floret is distinguished by its long-bearded callus and submarginal fringe of stiff white hairs on the upper part of the lemma (Clayton et al., 1994).
A similar species, C. virgata (feather fingergrass or feathertop Rhodes grass), differs in having white to yellowish-brown spikes and only two (rather than three) distinct awns (Whistler, 1994). C. gayana (Rhodes grass), a valuable fodder grass, is superficially similar but the spikes are yellow-brown rather than purple and the awns are much shorter, less than 1.5 times as long as the lemmas (Kleinschmidt and Johnson, 1977). Another weedy species, C. pilosa also has very short awns. C. prieurii has long awns, but there are 4-6 per spikelet. The annual C. pycnothrix has very distinctive short, blunt leaves.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Cultural Control
Good cultural practices, including good tillage, use of vigorous cultivars and timing of water and fertilizer applications maximize sugarcane growth and canopy closure (Santo, 1989). Healthy growing sugarcane will grow above C. barbata and shade it out and yield losses will be slight, if any (LT Santo, Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, personal communication).
In Hawaii, pre-emergence herbicides are the primary method of controlling weeds in sugarcane, with post-emergence treatments as a back-up. Grass weeds, including C. barbata, are difficult to control with post-emergence herbicides without damaging the crop. Ametryn or diuron + atrazine account for 80% of the herbicides used. A pre-emergence application in irrigated fields gives control for 5-8 weeks. Terbacil or hexazinone may be added to control C. barbata. Metsulfuron also gives good control of C. barbata. Ametryn or diuron, atrazine and 2,4-DB are used with dalapon or hexazinone for perennial grasses. Glyphosate is spot-applied to tall grass stands, with 2,4-D if broadleaved weeds are present (Santo, 1989). C. barbata developed resistance to ametryn and diuron. However, it is susceptible to pre-emergence applications of trifluralin or pendimethalin and is no longer a problem in sugarcane fields in Hawaii (LT Santo, Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, personal communication). Barnes and Chandapillai (1972) suggest the use of methylarsonic acid plus 2,4-D.
Glyphosate is used to control C. barbata in tree crops in Hawaii and spot applications of glyphosate or glufosinate are used in lawns (RK Nishimoto, University of Hawaii, personal communication).
In Andhra Pradesh, India, fluchloralin effectively controlled C. barbata and other narrow-leaved weeds in irrigated groundnuts (Rajan et al., 1981).
In tobacco in Thailand, clopomydim, fenoxaprop-ethyl, haloxyfop-methyl and fluazifop-butyl gave good control of the narrow-leaved weeds, including C. barbata, but could not control all of the broadleaved weeds. Fluazifop-butyl + bifenox, haloxyfop-methyl + dimethazone [withdrawn] and fenoxaprop-ethyl + dimethazone [withdrawn] controlled all the annual weeds for longer than 4 weeks and did not damage the crop (Suwanarak et al., 1986).
ReferencesTop of page
Ananthakrishnan TN; Thangavelu K, 1976. The cereal thrips Haplothrips ganglbaueri Schmutz with particular reference to the trends of infestation on Oryza sativa and the weed Echinochloa crusgalli. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences, B, 83(5):196-201
Ananthakrishnan TN; Thirumalai G, 1977. The grass seed infesting thrips Chirothrips mexicanus Crawford on Pennisetum typhoides and its principal alternate host, Chloris barbata. Current Science, 46(6):193-194
Anon, 1978. Flora of Taiwan, Volume 5. Taipei, China: Epoch Publishing.
Barnes DE; Chandapillai MM, 1972. Common Malaysian Weeds and their Control. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Ansul (Malaysia) Sdn. Berhad.
Bor NL, 1960. The Grasses of Burma, Ceylon, India and Pakistan (Excluding Bambusae). Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press.
Bosser J, 1969. Graminees des paturages et des cultures a Madagascar. Paris, France: ORSTOM.
Catindig JLA; Barrion AT; Litsinger JA, 1988. Host range of yellow rice borer, brown and whitebacked planthoppers. Philippine Association of Entomologists, Abstracts of Papers, 19th Anniversary and Annual Convention, Pest Control Council of the Philippines, 3-7 May 1988, Cebu City, Philippines.
Catindig JLA; Barrion AT; Litsinger JA, 1989. Life history and hosts of Sogatodes pusanus (Distant) (Hemiptera: Delphacidae). International Rice Research Newsletter, 19(1):23-24.
Catindig JLA; Barrion AT; Litsinger JA, 1991. Evaluation of weed alternate hosts to selected rice insect pests. Paper presented at the 22nd Annual Convention of the Pest Management Council of the Philippines, 8-10 May 1991, Manila, Philippines.
Catindig JLA; Barrion AT; Litsinger JA, 1994. Development biology and host plant range of rice ear-cutting caterpillar Mythimna separata (Walker). International Rice Research Notes, 19(1):23-24.
Clayton WD, 1972. 202. Gramineae. In: Hutchinson J, Dalziel JM and Hepper FN, eds. Flora of West Tropical Africa. Second edition. London, UK, Crown Agents, 349-512.
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Cope TA, 1982. 143. Poaceae. In: Nasir E, Ali SI, eds. Flora of Pakistan. Karachi, Pakistan: University of Karachi.
Haselwood EL; Motter GG, 1966. Handbook of Hawaiian weeds. Hawaii, USA: Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, 479pp.
Henty EE, 1969. A Manual of the Grasses of New Guinea. Botany Bulletin No. 1, Lae, Papua New Guinea: Division of Botany.
Hitchcock AS, 1922. The Grasses of Hawaii. Memoirs of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Volume VIII, Number 3. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bishop Museum.
Kleinschmidt HE; Johnson RW, 1977. Weeds of Queensland. Brisbane, Australia: Department of Primary Industries.
Lazarides M, 1980. The Tropical Grasses of Southeast Asia. Vaduz, Germany: Strauss and Cramer, 225 pp.
Macgregor JR; Allen CM, 1990. Chloris inflata (Poaceae), new to Louisiana. SIDA, Contributions to Botany, 14(2):313.
Moody K; Munroe CE; Lubigan RT; Paller Jr EC, 1984. Major Weeds of the Philippines. College, Laguna, Philippines: Weed Science Society of the Philippines.
Neal MC, 1965. In Gardens of Hawaii. Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Special Publication No. 50. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bishop Museum.
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Distribution MapsTop of page
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