Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Digitaria longiflora
(false couch grass)



Digitaria longiflora (false couch grass)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Digitaria longiflora
  • Preferred Common Name
  • false couch grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • D. longiflora is locally important but with a limited capacity for invasiveness.
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Digitaria longiflora (Retz.) Pers.

Preferred Common Name

  • false couch grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Digitaria propinqua (R. Br.) P. Beauv.
  • Paspalum brevifolium Flüggé
  • Paspalum longiflorum Retz.
  • Syntherisma longiflora (Retz.) Skeels

International Common Names

  • English: Indian crabgrass; wire crabgrass

Local Common Names

  • China: chang hua ma tang

EPPO code

  • DIGLO (Digitaria longiflora)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page D. longiflora is locally important but with a limited capacity for invasiveness.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Digitaria
  •                                 Species: Digitaria longiflora


Top of page D. longiflora is a stoloniferous, spreading species, often perennial, sometimes annual. Culm 10-60 cm tall, branching and often rooting at the nodes. Leaves rarely hairy on upper side, linear to ovate-lanceolate. Ligule membranous, truncate erose, sheath often hairy on lower leaves. Inflorescence composed of two to four very slender, digitately arranged racemes, each 1-10 cm long. Rhachis winged (0.5-0.8 mm wide), serrate. Spikelets 1.3-1.7 (-1.9) mm long and ca. 0.6 mm wide, or 2-2.5 times as long as wide, ternate; two subsessile, one pedicelled. Glumes: g1 a small rim or absent, g2 approximately equalling the spikelet, 3- to 5-nerved. Lemmas: L1 7-nerved. Fruit ellipsoid, pallid, light brown or light grey.

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Grass / sedge
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

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


BhutanRestricted distributionParker, 1992
CambodiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
ChinaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
-GansuPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
-Hong KongPresentHolm et al., 1979
IndiaWidespreadNativeShukla, 1996; Singh and Deshpande, 1978; Holm et al., 1979
-BiharPresentMishra and Jha, 1996
IndonesiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
-SumatraPresentFujisaka et al., 1991
IranPresentHolm et al., 1979
IraqPresentHolm et al., 1979
IsraelPresentHolm et al., 1979
Korea, DPRPresent
LaosPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MalaysiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
MyanmarPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
NepalPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
PhilippinesWidespreadNativeHolm et al., 1979; Pancho and Obien, 1995
Sri LankaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
TaiwanPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
ThailandPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
VietnamPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003


BeninPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
BotswanaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
Burkina FasoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
CameroonPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativeDujardin, 1979; Holm et al., 1979
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
EthiopiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
GabonPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
GhanaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
KenyaWidespreadNativeClayton and Renvoize, 1982; USDA-ARS, 2003
LiberiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MalawiPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MaliPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
MozambiquePresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
NamibiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
NigeriaWidespreadNativeStanfield, 1970; Holm et al., 1979
RwandaPresentNativeBouxin, 1975
SenegalPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
Sierra LeonePresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
SomaliaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
South AfricaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; van Oudtshoorn, 1999
SudanPresentHolm et al., 1979
SwazilandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
TanzaniaWidespreadNativeClayton and Renvoize, 1982; USDA-ARS, 2003
TogoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003
TunisiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
UgandaWidespreadNativeClayton and Renvoize, 1982; USDA-ARS, 2003
ZambiaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979; Parker, 1992
ZimbabwePresentNativeHolm et al., 1979

North America

-FloridaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2003
-HawaiiPresentHolm et al., 1979
-MarylandPresentBONAP, 2004

Central America and Caribbean

Puerto RicoPresentBONAP, 2004
Trinidad and TobagoPresentHolm et al., 1979


AustriaPresentHolm et al., 1979
FrancePresentIntroducedJauzein, 1992


AustraliaPresentNativeHolm et al., 1979
-QueenslandPresentNativeAnderson et al., 1983
French PolynesiaPresentHolm et al., 1979
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS, 2003

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page
Plant nameFamilyContext
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Reproductive Biology

Reproduction is via seeds, rhizomes and stolons (Häfliger and Scholz, 1980).

Plant Trade

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

Impact Summary

Top of page
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None


Top of page Ther results of field trials in sugarcane in South Africa using glyphosate indicated that successful control of creeping grasses, including D. longiflora, could be expected to give the small grower substantial increases in yield and projected net income (Landrey et al., 1993). In India, D. longiflora and other weeds reduce rice productivity (Bhagat et al, 1977).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources


Top of page D. longiflora is cultivated as a fodder crop (Wells et al., 1986).

Uses List

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  • Host of pest

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page D. longiflora is sometimes confused with Cynodon spp., especially C. dactylon, which often occurs in the same habitat. Cynodon spp. usually have longer, narrower leaves and three or more racemes per inflorescence (van Oudtshoorn, 1999).

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.

Glyphosate applied as a pre-sowing grass eradication treatment is recommended in sugarcane (Landrey et al., 1993). Hand weeding or treatment with piperophos + dimethametryn, dinitramine or oxadiazon have been used to control D. longiflora and Echinochloa crus-galli in rice (Bhagat et al., 1977).


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Anderson ER; Russell FJ; Scanlan JC; Fossett GW, 1983. Pastures under development in central Queensland. Part 1: Mackay region. Brisbane; Australia: Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Bhagat RK; Prasad SC; Sinha PN; Singh AP, 1977. Effectiveness of pre-em. application of weedicides in upland rice. Indian Journal of Weed Science, 9(1):9-13

BONAP, 2004. US distribution of Digitaria longiflora. BONAP distribution data. Texas A&M University, USA.

Bouxin G, 1975. Ordination and classification in the savanna vegetation of the Akagera Park (Rwanda, Central Africa). Vegetatio, 29(3):155-167.

Clayton WD; Renvoize SA, 1982. Gramineae (Part 3) In: Polhill RM, ed. Flora of Tropical East Africa. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Balkema, 451-898.

Dujardin M, 1979. Additional chromosome numbers and meiotic behaviour in tropical African grasses from western Zaire. Canadian Journal of Botany, 57(8):864-876.

Fujisaka S; Kirk G; Litsinger JA; Moody K; Hosen N; Yusef A; Nurdin F; Naim T; Artati F; Aziz A; Khatib W; Yustisia, 1991. Wild pigs, poor soils, and upland rice: a diagnostic survey of Sitiung, Sumatra, Indonesia. IRRI Research Paper Series Manila, Philippines; IRRI, No.155:9pp.

Holm L; Pancho JV; Herberger JP; Plucknett DL, 1979. A Geographical Atlas of World Weeds. Toronto, Canada: John Wiley and Sons Inc.

Häfliger E; Scholz H, 1980. Grass Weeds 1: Weeds of the subfamily Panicoideae. Basle, Switzerland: Documenta CIBA GEIGY.

Jauzein P, 1992. Some weeds found in France. Monde des Plantes, 87(443):28-30

Johnson DE, 1997. Weeds of rice in West Africa. West Africa Rice Development Association (WARDA), xvi + 312 pp.; 48 ref.

Landrey OP; Eichler GG; Chedzey J, 1993. Control of creeping grasses in small grower cane in the Umbumbulu district. Proceedings of the Annual Congress - South African Sugar Technologists' Association, No. 67:34-38

Mishra IN; Jha S, 1996. Nutritive profile of some grasses of Darbhanga. Environment and Ecology, 14(1):93-95.

Pancho JV; Obien SR, 1995. Manual of Ricefield Weeds in the Philippines. Munoz, Nueva Ecija, Philippines: Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Parker C, 1992. Weeds of Bhutan. Weeds of Bhutan., vi + 236 pp.

Roy AK, 1973. Natural occurrence of Corticium sasakii on some weeds. Current Science, 42(23):842-843

Shuklu U, 1996. The Grasses of North-Eastern India. Jodhpur, India: Scientific Publishers.

Singh NP; Deshpande UR, 1978. A note on the nomenclatural changes in the Indian species of Digitaria Haller. Annals of Arid Zone, 17(3):332-333.

Stanfield DP, 1970. The Flora of Nigeria Grasses. Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press.

Terry PJ; Michieka RW, 1987. Common Weeds of East Africa. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

USDA-ARS, 2003. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

van Oudtshoorn F, 1999. Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa. Arcadia, Pretoria, South Africa: Briza Publications.

Wells MJ; Balsinhas AA; Joffe H; Engelbrecht VM; Harding G; Stirton CH, 1986. A catalogue of problem plants in South Africa. Memoirs of the botanical survey of South Africa No 53. Pretoria, South Africa: Botanical Research Institute.

Distribution Maps

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