Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Digitaria ciliaris
(southern crabgrass)

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Datasheet

Digitaria ciliaris (southern crabgrass)

Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Inflorescence on a long culm, usually much taller than the foliage, consisting of 2-9 racemes 5-10(-15) cm long, sub-digitate (the latin generic name means 'fingers') with one or more inserted up to 1 cm below the others.
TitleInflorescence
CaptionInflorescence on a long culm, usually much taller than the foliage, consisting of 2-9 racemes 5-10(-15) cm long, sub-digitate (the latin generic name means 'fingers') with one or more inserted up to 1 cm below the others.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Inflorescence on a long culm, usually much taller than the foliage, consisting of 2-9 racemes 5-10(-15) cm long, sub-digitate (the latin generic name means 'fingers') with one or more inserted up to 1 cm below the others.
InflorescenceInflorescence on a long culm, usually much taller than the foliage, consisting of 2-9 racemes 5-10(-15) cm long, sub-digitate (the latin generic name means 'fingers') with one or more inserted up to 1 cm below the others.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Digitaria ciliaris (Retz.) Koeler

Preferred Common Name

  • southern crabgrass

Other Scientific Names

  • Asprella digitaria Lamk.
  • Digitaria abortive Reeder
  • Digitaria adscendens (Kunth.) Henr.
  • Digitaria chinensis Horn.
  • Digitaria chrysoblephara Fig. & Denot.
  • Digitaria fimbriata Link
  • Digitaria inaequale (Link) Spreng.
  • Digitaria inaequalis (Link) Spreng.
  • Digitaria marginata Link
  • Digitaria pes-avis Buse
  • Digitaria sericea (Honda) Ohwi
  • Digitaria sunguinale sensu Britton & Millsp.
  • Digitaria tarapacana Phil.
  • Leersia digitata (Lam.) Poir.
  • Milium ciliare (Retz.) Moench
  • Panicum adscendens Kunth
  • Panicum brachyphyllum Steud.
  • Panicum ciliare Retz.
  • Panicum fimbriatum (Link) Kunth
  • Panicum linkianum Kunth
  • Panicum ornithopus Trin.
  • Panicum pes-avis (Buse) Koord.
  • Panicum villiferum Nees
  • Paspalum ciliare (Retz.) DC
  • Paspalum inaequale Link
  • Sanguinaria ciliaris (Retz.) Bubani
  • Syntherisma ciliare Schraders.
  • Syntherisma ciliaris (Retz.) Schrad
  • Syntherisma fimbriata (Link) Nash
  • Syntherisma henryi (Rendle) Newbold
  • Syntherisma marginatum (Link) Nash
  • Syntherisma sericea Honda

International Common Names

  • English: bamboo grass; blanket crabgrass; hairy crabgrass; Henry's crabgrass; large crabgrass; smooth crabgrass; summergrass; tropical finger grass
  • Spanish: frente de toro; fresadilla; hierba conejo; hierba estival; pangola; zacate de agua
  • Chinese: xian mao ma tang

Local Common Names

  • Australia: crab grass; summer grass
  • Bhutan: chittrey banso; tampula
  • Brazil: capim tinga; capim-colchao; capim-de-roça; capim-milhá; milhá
  • Dominican Republic: grama dulce cimarrona; pata de cotorra; pendejuelo
  • Germany: aufsteigende fingerhirse; wimper- fingerhirse
  • India: malsa; malsh; suruwari
  • Indonesia: jampang jemprak; jampang pait; suket djrempak; sunbak gangrir
  • Indonesia/Java: genjeran; jelamparan; suket ceker ayam
  • Japan: mehishiba
  • Malaysia: cakar ayam
  • Mexico: zacate cangrejo; zacate velludo
  • Peru: gramilla; pasto colchón; pata de gallo
  • Philippines: baludyangan; saka-saka
  • Puerto Rico: pata de gallina; yerba de juey
  • Sri Lanka: arisi pul; guru tana
  • Thailand: jya-ma-tang; yah-tin-nok; ya-plongkhanok
  • Vietnam: tuc hinh leo

EPPO code

  • DIGAD (Digitaria adscendens)
  • DIGCM (Digitaria commutata)
  • DIGNU (Digitaria nuda)
  • DIGPC (Digitaria pectiniformis)
  • PANBR (Panicum brevifolium)

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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This weed has had many names, among which D. adscendens may still be quite often used, though D. ciliaris is generally regarded as the preferred name. A more important question is the extent to which it is distinct from, and/or confused with, D. sanguinalis. As noted under Similarities to Other Species, the two species are distinguished by rather small and unreliable characters, and where they both occur, there is almost certain confusion between them, if indeed they are truly distinct species. For the purposes of this Compendium, information has been derived mainly from sources referring to D. ciliaris, though it has to be accepted that in some cases the name may have been wrongly applied. However, there is no evidence that the two species differ to any significant extent in terms of physiology, ecology or reaction to control measures, and some reference to the behaviour of D. sanguinalis has been included where appropriate.

The DAISIE (2014) database regards D. ciliaris as a synonym of D. sanguinalis, so European distribution data refers to both of these taxa.

Description

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D. ciliaris is an annual grass, typically decumbent, rooting at the nodes and spreading to form untidy patches up to 1 m across and 50 cm high, although under crowded conditions it will grow more erect with culms up to 1 m high. The leaves are up to 25 cm long and 1 cm wide. Sheaths and lower parts of leaves loosely hairy on both surfaces. Ligule membraneous, 1-3 mm long. Inflorescence on a long culm, usually much taller than the foliage, consists of 2-9 racemes 5-10(-15) cm long sub-digitate (the latin generic name means 'fingers') with one or more inserted up to 1 cm below the others. The rachis of the racemes is up to 1 mm wide. The spikelets, arranged in pairs, one sessile and the other shortly pedicelled, are 2.5-3.5 mm long, tapering to an acute tip. The lower glume is a very short but distinct scale about 0.3 mm long; the upper glume at least half, usually about 3/4 the length of the spikelet, with three nerves. The upper lemma is as long as the spikelet and has 5-7 nerves, usually with a distinct space each side of the central one. The lateral nerves are smooth, without the scabrid character of D. sanguinalis but are variable in hairiness, sometimes with very long hairs. The upper lemma is smooth with only one nerve, grey to light brown. Grain 1.5-2 mm long.

Plant Type

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Annual
Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Parasitic
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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D. ciliaris is believed to have originated in Asia, but is now distributed throughout the tropics and sub-tropics of both hemispheres. In the USA it has a more southern distribution than D. sanguinalis, occurring widely south of a line from Nebraska to Virginia (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991).

The DAISIE (2014) database regards D. ciliaris as a synonym of D. sanguinalis, so European distribution data refers to both of these taxa.

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: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNative
AngolaPresentNative
BeninPresentNative
BotswanaPresentNative
Burkina FasoPresent
Cabo VerdePresent
CameroonPresentNative
Central African RepublicPresentNative
ChadPresentNative
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentNative
Congo, Republic of thePresentNative
Côte d'IvoirePresentNative
DjiboutiPresentNative
EgyptPresentOriginal citation: Täckholm (1974)
EritreaPresent
EswatiniPresent
EthiopiaPresent
GambiaPresent
GhanaPresent
GuineaPresent
Guinea-BissauPresent
KenyaPresent
LiberiaPresent
LibyaPresentNative
MadagascarPresentNative
MaliPresent
MauritaniaPresent
MauritiusPresentIntroducedInvasive
MozambiquePresent, Widespread
NigerPresent
NigeriaPresent
RéunionPresentNative
Saint HelenaPresent
SenegalPresent, Widespread
SeychellesPresentNative
Sierra LeonePresent
SomaliaPresentNative
South AfricaPresent, Widespread
SudanPresent
TanzaniaPresent
TunisiaPresent
UgandaPresent
ZimbabwePresent

Asia

AzerbaijanPresent
BahrainPresentNative
BangladeshPresent
BhutanPresent, Widespread
British Indian Ocean Territory
-Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedInvasive
CambodiaPresent
ChinaPresent, Widespread
-AnhuiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-FujianPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-GansuPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-GuangdongPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-GuangxiPresentNative
-GuizhouPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HainanPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HebeiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HeilongjiangPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HenanPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HubeiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-HunanPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-Inner MongoliaPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-JiangsuPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-JiangxiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-JilinPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-LiaoningPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-NingxiaPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-ShaanxiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-ShandongPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-ShanxiPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-SichuanPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-TibetPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-XinjiangPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-YunnanPresentNativeConsidered a weed
-ZhejiangPresentNativeConsidered a weed
GeorgiaPresent
IndiaPresent, Widespread
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroduced
-Andhra PradeshPresentNative
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNative
-AssamPresentNative
-BiharPresentNative
-ChandigarhPresentNative
-ChhattisgarhPresentNative
-Dadra and Nagar HaveliPresentNative
-Daman and DiuPresentNative
-DelhiPresentNative
-GoaPresentNative
-GujaratPresentNative
-HaryanaPresentNative
-Himachal PradeshPresentNative
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNative
-JharkhandPresentNative
-KarnatakaPresentNative
-KeralaPresentNative
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative
-MaharashtraPresentNative
-ManipurPresentNative
-MeghalayaPresentNative
-MizoramPresentNative
-NagalandPresentNative
-OdishaPresentNative
-PunjabPresentNative
-RajasthanPresentNative
-SikkimPresentNative
-Tamil NaduPresentNative
-TripuraPresentNative
-Uttar PradeshPresentNative
-UttarakhandPresentNative
-West BengalPresentNative
IndonesiaPresent, Widespread
-JavaPresentIntroduced
IsraelPresentNative
JapanPresentNative
-HonshuPresent
-KyushuPresent
-ShikokuPresent
LaosPresent
MalaysiaPresent
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentIntroduced
-SabahPresent
-SarawakPresent
MongoliaPresent
MyanmarPresent
NepalPresent
North KoreaPresentNative
OmanPresentNative
PakistanPresentNative
PhilippinesPresent
Saudi ArabiaPresent, Widespread
SingaporePresent
South KoreaPresentNative
Sri LankaPresent, Widespread
TaiwanPresent, Widespread
ThailandPresent, Widespread
VietnamPresent, Widespread
YemenPresentNative

Europe

BelgiumPresentIntroduced
BulgariaPresentIntroduced
CzechiaPresentIntroduced
DenmarkPresentIntroduced
EstoniaPresentIntroduced
FinlandPresentIntroduced
GermanyPresentIntroduced
HungaryPresent
IrelandPresentIntroduced
ItalyPresent
LatviaPresentIntroduced
LiechtensteinPresentIntroduced
LithuaniaPresentIntroduced
MoldovaPresentIntroduced
NorwayPresentIntroduced
PortugalPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AzoresPresentIntroduced
-MadeiraPresentIntroduced
RussiaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Russian Far EastPresentIntroducedPrimorye
SerbiaPresentIntroduced
SwedenPresentIntroduced
UkrainePresentIntroduced
United KingdomPresent, Few occurrences
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroduced

North America

ArubaPresentIntroduced
BahamasPresentIntroduced
BarbadosPresentIntroduced
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedGuana, Tortola
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroduced
Costa RicaPresentIntroducedAlajuela, Cartago, Guancaste, Limon, Puntarenas, San José
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasive
CuraçaoPresentIntroduced
DominicaPresentIntroduced
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroduced
El SalvadorPresentIntroduced
GuadeloupePresentIntroduced
GuatemalaPresentIntroducedAlta Verapaz, Chimaltenango, Progreso, Izabal, Jalapa, Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu
HaitiPresentIntroduced
HondurasPresentIntroducedAtlantida, Choluteca, Colon
JamaicaPresent, Widespread
MexicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
Netherlands AntillesPresentIntroduced
NicaraguaPresentIntroducedChinandega, Managua, Zelaya
PanamaPresentIntroducedCanal, Chiriqui, Colon, Darien, Los Santos, Panama, San Blas, Veraguas
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedInvasive
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedInvasive
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroduced
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresentIntroduced
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveSt. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas
United StatesPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresent
-ArizonaPresent
-ArkansasPresent
-CaliforniaPresent
-ConnecticutPresent
-DelawarePresent
-FloridaPresent
-GeorgiaPresent
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasive
-IdahoPresent
-IllinoisPresent
-IndianaPresent
-KansasPresent
-KentuckyPresent
-LouisianaPresent
-MainePresent
-MarylandPresent
-MississippiPresent
-MissouriPresent
-NebraskaPresent
-NevadaPresent
-New JerseyPresent
-New YorkPresent
-North CarolinaPresent
-OhioPresent
-OklahomaPresent
-PennsylvaniaPresent
-South CarolinaPresent
-TennesseePresent
-TexasPresent
-UtahPresent
-VirginiaPresent

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasive
AustraliaPresent, Widespread
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedInvasive
-Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasive
-QueenslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroduced
FijiPresentIntroducedInvasive
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasive
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasive
NauruPresentIntroduced
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced
New ZealandPresentIntroducedInvasive
NiuePresentIntroducedInvasive
Norfolk IslandPresentIntroducedInvasive
Northern Mariana IslandsPresent
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasive
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced
SamoaPresentIntroduced
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroduced
TongaPresentIntroduced
U.S. Minor Outlying IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive in the Eastern Island, Midway Atoll, San Island, Wake Island
-Wake IslandPresentIntroduced
VanuatuPresentIntroduced
Wallis and FutunaPresentIntroduced

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedBuenos Aires, Catamarca, Chaco, Cordoba, Corrientes, Entre Rios, Formosa, Juuy, La Pampa, La Rioja, Mendoza, Misiones, Salta, Santa Fe, San Juan, Tucuman
BoliviaPresentIntroduced
BrazilPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-BahiaPresent
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-GoiasPresent
-MaranhaoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Mato GrossoPresent
-Mato Grosso do SulPresent
-Minas GeraisPresent
-ParaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-ParanaPresent
-PernambucoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresent
-Rio Grande do SulPresent
-Santa CatarinaPresent
-Sao PauloPresent
-SergipePresentIntroducedNaturalizedNaturalized
ChilePresentIntroducedPrimera Region
ColombiaPresentIntroduced
EcuadorPresentIntroduced
French GuianaPresentIntroduced
GuyanaPresentIntroduced
ParaguayPresentIntroducedItapua, Misiones, Paraguari, Presidente Hayes, San pedro
PeruPresentIntroduced
SurinamePresentIntroduced
UruguayPresentIntroducedArtigas, Canelones, Cerro Largo, Colonia, Durazno, Lavalleja, Maldonado, Montevideo, Paysandú, Río Negro, Rivera, Soriano, Tacuarembó
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedAmazonas, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Delta Amacuro, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Esparta, Portuguesa, Tachira, Trujillo, Yaracuy, Zulia

History of Introduction and Spread

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The origin and native distribution range of D. ciliaris still remain uncertain. It is currently widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics, and while some authors consider the Old World (i.e., Asia and Africa) as the origin of the species (Acevedo-Rodríguez & Strong, 2012; Wagner et al., 1999; Oviedo et al., 2014; Clayton et al., 2014), other authors report it as native to Africa, tropical Asia, North America, Central America and South America as well (Zuloaga et al., 2008; USDA-ARS, 2014).  Therefore, determining the history of introduction of this species is difficult until more information becomes available. In the Caribbean (where most authors coincide listing this species as exotic) D. ciliaris was first reported in Cuba in 1865, in Puerto Rico and Jamaica in 1885, and in Hispaniola in 1887 (US National Herbarium).

Habitat

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D. ciliaris is a typical weedy annual grass, flourishing mainly in disturbed, open areas, with full sun or partial shade. It is a widespread weed of annual and perennial crops, including pastures, in the tropics and sub-tropics. It is also abundant on roadsides and wasteland.

Lepschi and Macfarlane (1997) reported that D. aequiglumis appeared to be confined to drier sites, whereas D. ciliaris and D. sanguinalis occupied not only these areas but also moist soil in a shallow drainage ditch running parallel to a road.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedProtected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

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D. ciliaris may occur in virtually any annual crop of the tropics and sub-tropics, and in most perennial crops and pastures. It is perhaps most conspicuous and troublesome in annual row-crops, including cereals, cotton, legumes and vegetables in which it establishes rapidly before the crop is casting adequate shade.

Biology and Ecology

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As an annual weed, D. ciliaris depends on seed production for its spread. There is some post-harvest dormancy which may last several months. Germination then occurs at temperatures above 20°C and is perhaps greatest under fluctuating temperatures of 20 and 35°C (Holm et al., 1977). Most germination occurs at or close to the soil surface (Osa et al., 1988), but some may occur from 5 cm depth (Takabayashi and Nakayama, 1979). Seeds can survive passage through cattle and thus contaminate farmyard manure (Takabayashi et al., 1979).

Flowering and seed production may be affected by daylength in some populations but others are day-length neutral and can flower and seed repeatedly throughout the growing season (Kataoka et al., 1986). The weed in Japan is mainly self-pollinated but with some out-crossing under natural conditions (Kataoka and Kataoka, 1991).

As a C4 plant, the weed is favoured by full sunlight and growth is suppressed by shading (e.g. Bantilan et al., 1974; Shetty and Shivakumar, 1982) though it is less susceptible than many other annuals (Noguchi and Nakayama, 1978) and does persist in the partial shade of many perennial tree crops.

The emerged plant is susceptible to frost but dormant seeds in the soil are not normally affected.

D. ciliaris often predominates at the early stages of secondary succession. The amount of carbon released into the soil through root exudation by D. ciliaris increased with the growth of Digitaria species in a laboratory experiment. The percentage of exuded carbon to photosynthetically net fixed carbon, which was higher at younger stages (13%) in D. ciliaris, decreased to 3.1% with time. The total amount of carbon released through root exudation in D. ciliaris was estimated at 3.1% of photosynthetically net fixed carbon. These results suggest that wild plants may exude a considerable amount of carbon from their roots to the soil and emphasizes the need to consider root exudation in the carbon cycle (Bekku et al., 1997).

All seeds of D. ciliaris were killed by exposure to heat at 55°C for 72 h and 60°C for 24 h. D. ciliaris was found to have low short duration and long duration heat tolerance (Nishida et al., 1999).

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 13
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 15 40
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 25 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 10 15

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall5001700mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Amblyseius hirotae Herbivore
Atherigona oryzae Herbivore
Cochliobolus heterostrophus Pathogen
Corticium sasakii Herbivore
Dicladispa armigera Herbivore
Lasioptera Herbivore
Pythium Pathogen
Stenotus rubrovittatus Herbivore

Notes on Natural Enemies

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There are few reports of significant damage to D. ciliaris from natural enemies and none have been seriously proposed as a means of biological control. Many of the species listed under Natural Enemies are better known as polyphagous pests of graminaceous and other crops and others require evaluation before being considered as potential biological control agents.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionGrass crop for haymaking Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Escape from confinement or garden escapePlants produce many seeds and may also spread by rooting at the nodes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Forage Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Habitat restoration and improvementPlanted to control soil erosion Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Containers and packaging - wood Yes
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds, plant segments, rhizomes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Land vehiclesSeeds, plant segments, rhizomes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
LivestockSeeds Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Machinery and equipmentSeeds, plant segments, rhizomes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1977)
Plants or parts of plantsSeeds as contaminant in crop and grass seeds Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
Soil, sand and gravelSeeds, plant segments, rhizomes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)
WaterSeeds, plant segments, rhizomes Yes Yes Holm et al. (1979)

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain)
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Leaves
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
Wood

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections Positive
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) Positive
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Positive
Fisheries / aquaculture Positive
Forestry production Positive
Human health Positive
Livestock production Positive
Native fauna Positive
Native flora Positive
Rare/protected species Negative
Tourism Negative
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel Negative

Economic Impact

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D. ciliaris is listed as a serious or principal weed of 11 countries, mainly in Asia (Holm et al., 1979) and in a wide range of crops, including groundnut, cotton, rice, maize, sorghum, vegetables, pineapple, cassava and tea. With the possible exception of tea all these are grown in such a way as to allow the weed to grow relatively unshaded, at least in the early stages.

It is regarded as an aggressive weed, especially competitive for nitrogen (Okumura et al., 1986). Competitive effects have been recorded on sorghum (ICRISAT, 1981).

It is suspected of allelopathic effects, not only on crops such as cucumber but against other weeds, nitrifying bacteria and Rhizobium (Ito et al., 1987; Ito and Ichikawa, 1994).

It may also act as an alternative host to crop pests and diseases, including Rice stripe virus and Rice black-streaked dwarf virus (Shinkai, 1955, 1957), Pangola stunt virus of sugarcane (Teakle et al., 1991), Sugarcane mosaic virus (Joshi and Gupta, 1976); Maize streak virus (Ekukole et al., 1989) and sorghum plantbug [Stenotus rubrovittatus] (Hayashi and Nakazawa, 1988).

There is some evidence that D. ciliaris and other weeds yields can deplete potassium in soils, resulting in reduced crop yields (Singh et al., 1996).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Panicum fauriei (Carter's panicgrass)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service (2011)
Plantago hawaiensis (Hawai'i plantain)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringUS Fish and Wildlife Service (1996)
Scaevola coriacea (dwarf naupaka)NatureServe; USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition (unspecified)US Fish and Wildlife Service (2010a)
Sesbania tomentosaNational list(s); USA ESA listing as endangered speciesHawaiiCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service (2010b)

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
Impact outcomes
  • Damaged ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Competition (unspecified)
  • Pest and disease transmission
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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D. ciliaris cv. Red River is a high-yielding forage and conservation-type cultivar developed and released in 1988.

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Agroforestry
  • Soil conservation

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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There are about 200 species of Digitaria, all superficially similar with digitate or sub-digitate inflorescences. Precise identification requires at least a x10 hand-lens or ideally a low-power microscope, for close observation of the details and arrangement of the spikelets. Some species are perennial, have distinct growth habits or have spikelets in groups of three rather than two. Otherwise annual species are mainly distinguished on the basis of the shape, lengths and hairiness of the glumes and lemmas.

The species closest to D. ciliaris is D. sanguinalis, which differs mainly in having a shorter upper glume, not normally more than half the length of the spikelet, and in having the lateral nerves of the upper lemma scabrid towards the tip of the spikelet, but neither of these characters is very distinct and intermediates occur. In the USA, D. sanguinalis is said to differ in having leaf blades hairy (papillose-pilose) on the upper surface, often densely so, while in D. ciliaris they are only sparsely hairy near the throat (Gleason and Cronquist, 1991). D. sanguinalis is best known from North America and apparently has a more temperate distribution (D. ciliaris is known as southern crabgrass) but is also common in Europe and is recorded from many other countries of Asia and Africa. Bor (1960) remarks that a microscope is needed to see the scabrid nerves in Indian specimens of D. sanguinalis but that this species is "much less robust" than D. ciliaris.

Each region of the world has other annual species which commonly occur as weeds and which can also be confused with D. ciliaris. These include D. horizontalis in Africa and America, with more racemes, shorter, narrower spikelets, slightly hairy rachis, and upper glume only half the length of the spikelet. D. nuda, mainly in Africa, differs with smaller spikelets and absence of lower glume. In Asia, the species most likely to be confused is D. timorensis, which differs mainly in having narrower spikelets with lower glume less than half as long as the spikelet.

D. aequiglumis can be distinguished from D. ciliaris and D. sanguinalis by its distinctive pale green colour, absence of the lower glume, its upper glume being subequal to the lemma and its primary inflorescence branches being unwinged (Lepschi and Macfarlane, 1997).

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

Manual control of D. ciliaris is complicated by the habit of rooting at the nodes, which means that small parts of the plant may remain and recover. Otherwise it is relatively easily controlled by mechanical means.

Solarization can be highly effective on this species (Nobuoka and Hosoda, 1992).

Smothering by legume cover crops is likely to be of value in perennial tree crops.

Chemical Control

D. ciliaris is susceptible to most of the main groups of grass-killing herbicides, including substituted ureas (diuron, etc.), uracils (bromacil), dinitroanilines (trifluralin, etc.), acetamides, thiolcarbamates (EPTC, etc., but not thiobencarb), dimethylethers (oxyfluorfen, etc.), graminicides (fluazifop, sethoxydim, etc.), imidazolinones (imazaquin, etc.), quinclorac, oxadiazon, clomazone, diphenamid, MSMA, paraquat, glufosinate and glyphosate. It is less susceptible than many other annual grasses to the triazine herbicides, and in maize, atrazine pre-emergence needs admixture with e.g. metolachlor. In rice, propanil is not effective beyond the early seedling stage, and thiobencarb may not be effective.

Within the graminicides, haloxyfop, quizalofop, clethodim, cycloxydim and fenoxaprop may give more reliable control than fluazifop (Grichar, 1991a; Pinto and Fleck, 1990)

Where broad-spectrum weed control requires the use of herbicide mixtures such as a graminicide with a broad-leaf weed killer, there are risks of antagonism in many combinations, e.g. sethoxydim with 2,4-DB, pyridate, bentazon, aciflurofen, but not always with lactofen (Grichar, 1991b). In most cases the antagonism can be avoided by applying the broad-leaf herbicide a day or two later than the graminicide.

Thanks to the wide range of effective compounds, control with herbicide should normally be possible in any broad-leaved or perennial crop and in most cereal crops. However, biotypes of D. sanguinalis with resistance to triazine herbicides have already occurred in Europe (LeBaron, 1991) and it is likely that resistance could also develop in D. ciliaris. It is very important that herbicide use should take account of the risks of resistant biotypes building up and repeated use of the same, or closely related, herbicide must be avoided. As so many herbicide groups are active, it should not be difficult to vary the type of compound used, even though this may mean not always using the least expensive product.

There are no reports of serious interest in, or attempts at, biological control.

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Xuang TD, Tsuzuki E, 2001. Effects of application of alfalfa pellet on germination and growth of weeds. Journal of Crop Production, 4(2): 303-312.

Yang KG, Kim KH, Chung IM, 1998. Screening and utilization of allelopathic plants for the cultural practice improvement in ginseng (Panax ginseng C.A. Meyer). Korean Journal of Weed Science, 18(3): 214-224.

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York AC, Wilcut JW, Grichar WJ, 1993. Interaction of 2,4-DB with postemergence graminicides. Peanut Science, 20(1):57-61

Yu XP, Heong KL, Hu C, Hamid AA, Yeang LK, 1998. Effect of various non rice host on the growth, reproduction and predation of mirid bug, Cyrtorhinus lividipennis Reuter. In: Proceedings of the Rice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Conference, Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia, 56-63.

Zuloaga FO, Morrone O, Belgrano MJ, 2008. Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares del Cono Sur: (Argentina, Sur de Brasil, Chile, Paraguay y Uruguay) ([English title not available])., USA: Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 3348 pp.

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Contributors

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25/03/14 Updated by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

Pedro Acevedo-Rodríguez, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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