Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Agrostis capillaris
(common bent)



Agrostis capillaris (common bent)


  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Agrostis capillaris
  • Preferred Common Name
  • common bent
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Common bent, Agrostis capillaris, is a typical and often abundant species in grasslands on acidic or neutral soils. It is native and widespread throughout most parts of Europe, western and southwestern Asia a...

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Agrostis capillaris (common bent); habit. June, 2006.
CaptionAgrostis capillaris (common bent); habit. June, 2006.
Copyright©Kristian Peters-2006/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Agrostis capillaris (common bent); habit. June, 2006.
HabitAgrostis capillaris (common bent); habit. June, 2006.©Kristian Peters-2006/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Agrostis capillaris L.

Preferred Common Name

  • common bent

Other Scientific Names

  • Agrostis alba var. vulgaris (With.) Coss. & Durieu
  • Agrostis capillaris subsp. castellana (Boiss. & Reut.) O.Bolòs, Masalles & Vigo
  • Agrostis capillaris subsp. olivetorum (Godr.) O.Bolòs, Masalles & Vigo
  • Agrostis capillaris subsp. oreophila (O.Schwarz) Soják
  • Agrostis capillaris subsp. repens (Laest.) Soják
  • Agrostis capillaris var. alpigena (Schur) Druce
  • Agrostis capillaris var. aristata (Parnell) Druce
  • Agrostis capillaris var. aristulata Hitchc.
  • Agrostis capillaris var. capillaris
  • Agrostis capillaris var. humilis (Asch. & Graebn.) Druce
  • Agrostis capillaris var. nigra (With.) Druce
  • Agrostis capillaris var. olivetorum (Godr. & Gren.) Kerguélen
  • Agrostis capillaris var. pumila (L.) Druce
  • Agrostis capillaris var. stolonifera (L.) Druce
  • Agrostis sylvatica Huds.
  • Agrostis tarda Bartl.
  • Agrostis tenuis Sibth.
  • Agrostis vulgaris With.

International Common Names

  • English: Astoria bent; black couch; brown bentgrass; browntop; browntop bentgrass; burden's grass; colonial bent; colonial bentgrass; common bentgrass; common bentgrass; dew grass; English bent; furzetop; New Zealand bentgrass; Prince Edward Island bent grass; Rhode Island bent; Rhode Island bent grass; Waipu bent
  • Spanish: agróstide común; agróstide tenue; chépica alemana; heno ahumado; hierba fina; pasto quila
  • French: agrostide commune; agrostide fine; agrostide ténue; agrostide vulgaire; agrostis capillaire; agrostis commun; agrostis delicat
  • Russian: polevitsa tonkaya
  • Chinese: xi ruo jian gu ying
  • Portuguese: agrostide-tenue

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: psinecek obecný; psinecek tenký
  • Germany: gemeines Straussgras; rotes Straussgras; Rotstraussgras
  • Italy: capellini delle praterie; capellini esile; capellini volgare
  • Netherlands: gewoon struisgras
  • Poland: mietlica pospolita
  • Slovakia: psincek tenucký
  • Sweden: roedven
  • Turkey: kus otu

EPPO code

  • AGSTE (Agrostis tenuis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Common bent, Agrostis capillaris, is a typical and often abundant species in grasslands on acidic or neutral soils. It is native and widespread throughout most parts of Europe, western and southwestern Asia and North Africa. Within its native range the species is often abundant in nutrient poor pastures, along roadsides or on disturbed ground. A. capillaris has been intentionally introduced as a pasture grass and as a turf grass for lawns, in particular for golf courses, into a number of countries and has become widespread in North America, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America. It has been recorded as invading native grasslands in part of its exotic range, including prairies in North America.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Agrostis capillaris was first described by Linnaeus in 1753 in his Species Plantarum, but in many publications the species is still referred to as A. tenuis, a name first published in 1794 in Flora Oxoniensis by Sibthorp. However, the Linnaean name takes precedence and is the accepted name, while A. tenuis is now classified as a junior synonym (ITIS, 2008). It is worth noting that A. capillaris Pollich, non L. and A. capillaris var. stolonifera (L.) Druce are in fact synonyms of A. stolonifera L. (Quattrocchi, 2006).


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A. capillaris is a low-growing, rhizomatous, perennial grass. It forms dense swards of quite fine leaves that taper almost directly from the ligule down to the finely pointed tip. The flowering panicle is finely branched with numerous very small spikelets forming a reddish-purple haze over the mat of leaves. Culms are tufted, geniculate or decumbent and rooting at base, 20-70 (occasionally 100) cm tall. Leaf sheaths are smooth with linear blades, flat or inrolled, 2-15 cm x 1-4 mm, scabrous or nearly smooth with acuminate apex. The ligule on non-flowering shoots is 1-2 mm, shorter than wide and truncate. The panicle is elliptic in outline, up to 20 cm long, open and very lax with 2-5 spreading branches per node. Branches of the panicle are capillary, 1.5-3.5 cm, with purplish brown spikelets (1.5-2.5mm). Glumes are elliptic-lanceolate, subequal or lower glume slightly longer, lower glume scabrid along keel, the upper glume often smooth with acute apex. The entire plant is hairless. Seeds are small and brown; roots have scaly rhizomes and occasionally stolons (Edgar and Forde, 1991; Zheng et al., 2006; Quattrocchi, 2006; Gateley, 2015; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016; Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016; New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2016).

A detailed description of the plant can be found in Edgar and Forde (1991) and illustrations are provided by Hubbard (1954) and Gateley (2015).


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A. capillaris is native to most of Eurasia, from Ireland and Britain in the west, through Siberia and Central Asia, as far east as China and from Scandinavia south to the Mediterranean, including Tunisia in North Africa. It has been introduced and has naturalized in the Americas (USA, Canada, Greenland, Brazil, Argentina and Chile), southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand (USDA-ARS, 2016). It has also been introduced to several islands, including Saint Helena, Hawaii, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GISD, 2016).

A. capillaris is widespread largely in the western and eastern sides of North America and is considered invasive in the northeastern and western states of the USA (GoBotany, 2016; USDA-NRCS, 2016).

In Australia, A. capillaris is widely naturalized in the wetter parts of southern Australia, in much of New South Wales, Victoria,Tasmania, southeastern South Australia and the coastal districts of southwestern Western Australia (Queensland Government, 2016).

In New Zealand it has been naturalized since the 1840s and is now extremely widespread (Thomson, 1922) as it is an important fodder plant of dryland pastures (Levy, 1924). However, it has a significant role in the degradation of native grasslands (Treskonova, 1991).

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


AfghanistanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
ArmeniaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
AzerbaijanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
BhutanPresentIntroducedNoltie, 2000
ChinaPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-HenanPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-Nei MengguPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-NingxiaPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-ShanxiPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
-XinjiangPresentNative Not invasive Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016
Georgia (Republic of)PresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
IndiaPresentIntroducedNoltie, 2000
-West BengalPresentIntroducedNoltie, 2000
IranPresentNative Not invasive Rechinger, 1963
KazakhstanPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
TurkeyPresentNative Not invasive Davis, 2008


Saint HelenaPresentIntroduced Invasive Varnham, 2006
-Tristan Da CunhaPresentIntroducedVarnham, 2006Gough Island
-Canary IslandsPresentNative Not invasive Izquierdo et al., 2004
TunisiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016

North America

CanadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-New BrunswickPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OntarioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-QuebecPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Yukon TerritoryPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
GreenlandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
USAWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Odland, 1930; Hitchcock and Chase, 1951; Go Botany, 2016; Utah State University Web Manual, 2016invasive in northeastern and western states
-AlabamaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-AlaskaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-ArkansasPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-CaliforniaPresentIntroducedHickman, 1993
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-DelawarePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-District of ColumbiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IdahoPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IllinoisPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-IndianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-KentuckyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MainePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MarylandPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MichiganPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MississippiPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MissouriPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-MontanaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-NevadaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New HampshirePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New JerseyPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-New YorkPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-North CarolinaPresentIntroducedRadford et al., 1968
-North DakotaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OhioPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-OregonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced1747USDA-NRCS, 2016
-South CarolinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-TennesseePresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-UtahPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-VermontPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Zell, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2016
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-West VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-WyomingPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016

South America

ArgentinaPresentIntroducedInstituto de Botanica Darwinion, 2008
BrazilPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
-Rio Grande do SulPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2016
ChilePresentIntroducedRugolo and Molina, 1997
South Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsPresentIntroducedbefore 1969 Invasive Varnham, 2006


AlbaniaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
AustriaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
BelarusPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
BelgiumPresentNative Not invasive Ecological Flora of the British Isles, 2015
BulgariaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
Czech RepublicPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
DenmarkPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
EstoniaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
Faroe IslandsPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
FinlandPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
FrancePresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
-CorsicaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
GermanyPresentNative Not invasive Zimmermann, 1937; Tutin et al., 1980
GreecePresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
HungaryPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
IcelandPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
IrelandPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
ItalyPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
LatviaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
LiechtensteinPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
LithuaniaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
LuxembourgPresentNative Not invasive Ecological Flora of the British Isles, 2015
MoldovaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
NetherlandsPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
NorwayPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
PolandPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
PortugalPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
Russian FederationPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
-Central RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
-Eastern SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive Tzvelev, 1976
-Northern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
-Southern RussiaPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
-Western SiberiaPresentNative Not invasive Tzvelev, 1976
SerbiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
SlovakiaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
SloveniaPresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
SpainPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
SwedenPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
SwitzerlandPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
UKPresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980
UkrainePresentNative Not invasive USDA-ARS, 2016
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNative Not invasive Tutin et al., 1980


AustraliaPresentIntroducedQueensland Government, 2016
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016
-South AustraliaPresentIntroduced1859 Invasive Queensland Government, 2016
-TasmaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced Invasive Queensland Government, 2016
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1840s Invasive New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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European colonists introduced A. capillaris as a pasture grass to the Americas, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It later became popular as a sports turf and lawn species and was widely planted. The first mention of A. capillaris in the USA dates back to 1747 for a collection made in Rhode Island, but the species was likely present a century earlier, having been introduced to New England by English settlers. Due to its popularity as a pasture and turf species, it spread rapidly. One of the first American cultivars, Astoria, was obtained from seed collected in 1926 in northwestern Oregon and it is considered a wild-type, the same as the common A. capillaris (Odland, 1930; Alderson and Sharp, 1995; Ruemmele, 2003; MacBryde, 2005). Its spread was facilitated by the fact that for many years it was the bentgrass of choice for lawns in large parts of the USA and up to the mid to late 1960s it was commonly found in commercial seed mixtures, particularly in the north-west (Cook, 2015).

There is little information as to exact dates when Europeans introduced A. capillaris to their other colonies, but it was present in New Zealand by at least the 1840s and was recorded as naturalized in 1867 (New Zealand Plant Conservation Network, 2016). It was first recorded naturalized in South Australia in 1859 (Jessop et al., 2006).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia UK 1859 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Jessop et al. (2006)
New Zealand UK 1867 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No New Zealand Plant Conservation Network (2016)
USA Europe 1650-1747 Crop production (pathway cause) Yes No Odland (1930)

Risk of Introduction

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On a global scale, A. capillaris has colonised many of the the temperate geographical regions which can provide a suitable climate for its growth and development. Until recently, seed of A. capillaris has been intentionally imported for turf and pasture grass use into a number of countries under legal licensing procedures. It is likely that this form of introduction will continue to a certain degree, particularly when the species is already widespread in the importing country. 


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A. capillaris mainly occurs in grasslands and pastures throughout its native and introduced ranges though the species can become adapted to a wide range of other habitats (Acheroy and Lefèbvre, 1983). It can be particularly dominant on poor and acidic soils and is well adapted to grazing pressure (Stace, 1997; Wörz, 1998; Bond et al., 2007; Gateley, 2015). It also invades ruderal, disturbed areas, heathland, woodland, scrub and sand dune habitats, as well as urban areas where it frequently colonizes roadsides (Rapson and Wilson, 1988; Gateley, 2015). A. capillaris can also become abundant in wetlands and cultivated areas (Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016). In Australia, it is also reported from dry coastal vegetation, heathy woodlands, lowland grasslands, grassy woodlands, dry and damp sclerophyll forests, riparian vegetation and alpine and sub-alpine vegetation, including montane peatlands and swamps.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Rail / roadsides Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Wetlands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Coastal dunes Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal dunes Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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A. capillaris has not been reported as a weed in specific cropping situations, but can invade pastures and other grasslands. 

Biology and Ecology

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Common bent forms hybrids with creeping bentgrass, A. stolonifera and black bent, A. gigantea (A. capillaris x gigantea= A. x bjoerkmanii Widén; Agrostis capillaris x stolonifera= A. x murbeckii Fouill.) (Tutin et al., 1980; NBN Gateway, 2016). EST sequence analyses by Rotter et al. (2007) showed that the allotetraploids (2n = 4x = 28) of A. capillaris and A. stolonifera had a genome, designated A2, in common and that these A2 genomes diverged from a common ancestor approximately 2.2 million years ago.

Reproductive Biology

A. capillaris is predominantly outcrossing. It is wind pollinated and propagates by seeds but also vegetatively by rhizomes and stolons (GISD, 2016). In some populations the high proportion of clones and low occurrence of seedlings indicate significant vegetative reproduction (Smith, 1972). In the northern hemisphere seed setting takes place from August to October (Grime et al., 1988). Seeds can persist in the soil seed bank for over 40 years (Thompson et al., 1997).

Physiology and Phenology

A. capillaris is a long-day C3 plant, with an active growth period starting in spring. The flowering panicle becomes evident from May and flowering continues into August in the northern hemisphere (Wörz, 1998; Gateley, 2015). Here anthesis occurs 2 weeks after first emergence of inflorescences (Philipson, 1937). In the southern hemisphere inflorescences emerge from December to January, with anthesis occurring about 3.5 weeks later. After seeds have been shed, the bare panicles usually persist all winter (Gateley, 2015).

A. capillaris adapts to environmental stresses genetically and through plasticity, resulting often in distinct locally adapted forms (Jowett, 1964; Wörz, 1998). Adaptive advantages caused by its high plasticity are considered to contribute to its invasiveness (Rapson and Wilson, 1992a, 1992b). On the other hand, there is very little evidence that A. capillaris develops distinctly adapted forms in its introduced range even after considerable time (Rapson and Wilson, 1988; Wilson and Rapson, 1995).


A. capillaris is often associated with Festuca rubra, which nevertheless prefers slightly richer (mesotrophic) soils (Peeters, 2015). Other species commonly associated with A. capillaris in Europe are Ranunculus acris, Leontodon hispidus, Nardus stricta, Anthoxanthum odoratum, Potentilla erecta and Plantago lanceolata (Wörz, 1998).

Environmental Requirements

Common bent has low climatic requirements, being very resistant to summer heat and winter cold. It is present in Atlantic and continental climates, at low and high altitude and, although it generally requires high light levels, can tolerate shade to a certain degree (Peeters, 2015).

Common bent is typical of mesotrophic to oligotrophic conditions and prefers fine to medium-textured soils containing a moderate level of organic matter, with a pH optimum of 6.5 to 7.3 (Dale et al., 1965). Optimal growth occurs on freely drained or fairly dry soils, but A. capillaris can also be abundant on poorly drained and damp soils when inhabiting wetlands (Rapson and Wilson, 1992a; Stace, 1997). Preferred soil conditions include sandy, schist, granitic and gneiss, where the soil reaction is acid, but also on chalk and dolomite with a basic soil reaction (Peeters, 2015). However, according to Wörz (1998), calcareous soil is only inhabited when the upper layer has become acidified.

The species is an indicator of low soil nutrient levels and often low phosphorus content (Wörz, 1998; Peeters, 2015). It lacks tolerance of magnesium, avoiding areas of higher magnesium concentration such as seashores (Wu, 1981), but has high tolerance of heavy metals and arsenic (Jowett, 1958, 1964; Wilson, 1988; Watkins and Macnair, 1991).

As well as grazing, A. capillaris tolerates cutting and mowing and also benefits from frequent burning (Briemle and Ellenberg, 1994; Wilson, 1999).


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BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
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)
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Preferred Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
65 45

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Ascochyta agrostidis Pathogen Leaves to genus
Ascochyta leptospora Pathogen Leaves not specific
Blumeria graminis Pathogen Whole plant not specific
Bryotropha terrella Herbivore Leaves not specific
Coenonympha dorus Herbivore Leaves not specific
Doratura stylatus Herbivore Leaves not specific
Elachista apicipunctella Herbivore Leaves not specific
Epichloe baconii Pathogen Stems not specific
Erebia meolans Herbivore Leaves not specific
Javesella dubia Herbivore Leaves not specific
Lidophia graminis Pathogen Inflorescence/Leaves not specific
Lopus decolor Herbivore Whole plant to genus
Mastigosporium rubricosum Pathogen Leaves not specific
Melanargia galathea Herbivore Leaves not specific
Mocydiopsis parvicauda Herbivore Leaves not specific
Neides tipularius Herbivore Whole plant not specific
Phyllotreta vittula Herbivore Leaves not specific
Puccinia coronata Pathogen Leaves not specific
Puccinia graminis Pathogen Leaves/Stems not specific
Puccinia recondita f.sp. agrostidis Pathogen Leaves not specific
Pyrenophora erythrospila Pathogen Leaves not specific
Pyronia tithonus Herbivore Leaves not specific
Ramularia pusilla Pathogen Leaves not specific
Rhinanthus serotinus Parasite Roots not specific
Ribautodelphax collina Herbivore Leaves not specific
Scottianella dalei Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific
Spermospora ciliata Pathogen Leaves not specific
Streptanus sordida Herbivore Leaves not specific
Tilletia sphaerococca Pathogen Inflorescence not specific
Urocystis agrostidis Pathogen Leaves/Stems to genus
Xanthodelphax straminea Herbivore Leaves not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Several non-specific pathogens of A. capillaris have been recorded, some of which are thought to be specific to the genus Agrostis (Braun, 1995; Dennis, 1995; Ellis and Ellis, 1997; Buczacki and Harris, 1998; Legon et al., 2005; Spooner and Legon, 2006; BioInfo (UK), 2015). This is mirrored by a suite of arthropod herbivores feeding on A. capillaris, with numerous polyphagous Lepidoptera being recorded from this species (Emmet and Langmaid, 2002; Entopedia, 2015; Natural History Museum, 2016). Generally, the host specificity of Hemiptera recorded from A. capillaris or Agrostis is not entirely clear (see Southwood and Leston, 1959; Nickel and Remane, 2002) and it cannot be excluded that some species of this group are specifically adapted to A. capillaris. It is notable that in the UK, only one chrysomelid beetle has been recorded from A. capillaris (Cox, 2007). Equally, a range of herbivorous arthropod species, including Diptera, sawflies, aphids and other Hemiptera, has only been reported from the genus Agrostis, likely indicating difficulties in identifying the host species during field observations (Nickel and Remane, 2002; Pitkin et al., 2015).

In the northwestern USA, European crane fly larvae are the only insects reported to cause significant damage on common bent in most years (Cook, 2015). In this context the term European cranefly most likely refers to either Tipula paludosa Meigen or T. oleracea L., with all turf grasses in the USA reported to be susceptible to the larvae of these two species (Peck et al., 2006).

In its native range A. capillaris is recorded as a host of the hemiparasitic plant Rhinanthus serotinus (Ahonen et al., 2006).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Seeds of A. capillaris are dispersed naturally by wind and water (Timmins and MacKenzie, 1995).

Vector Transmission

Seeds can be dispersed by wild ungulates via attachment to hair and hooves (Heinken and Raudnitschka, 2002). Seeds are also dispersed and eaten by ants and A. capillaris is sometimes associated with ant-mounds (Kovár et al., 2001; Kovár and Kovárová, 1998).

Accidental Introduction

Seed of A. capillaris can be spread accidentally when it occurs as a contaminant of grass seed lots or in sod soil (Cook, 2015).

Intentional Introduction

There has been considerable historical anthropogenic intentional spread of the species as a pasture and turf grass. For example, in 1954, New Zealand harvested 487,000 kg of common bent seed, most of which was exported abroad (Corkill and Rumball, 1980). A. apillaris may also be introduced as a dune stabiliser.

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) Yes

Impact Summary

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Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Negative

Economic Impact

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A. capillaris is a known carrier of Barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV), which reduces populations of native grasses in New Zealand and has economic implications for infection of cereal crops (Davis and Guy, 2001).

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

A. capillaris is classified as an environmental weed throughout wide parts of Australia. This species is now a major weed of disturbed sites and pasture and also invades dry coastal vegetation, heathlands and heathy woodlands, lowland grasslands and grassy woodlands, dry sclerophyll forests, damp sclerophyll forests, riparian vegetation, freshwater wetlands and alpine and sub-alpine vegetation. It competes strongly with or in some places even displaces native species and is common in disturbed areas in the sub-alpine and alpine areas of Kosciuszko National Park, remaining persistent even in the absence of continued disturbance (Johnston and Pickering, 2001; McDougall, 2001; Pickering and Hill, 2007; Queensland Government, 2016). In Australia, A. capillaris is generally troublesome in cooler areas and in wetter parts such as wetlands and riparian areas and is regarded as a high threat weed species in remnant floodplain riparian woodlands. In particular, A. capillaris aggressively competes with native species in bog and fen communities (i.e. montane peatlands and swamps) (Queensland Government, 2016).

Impact on Biodiversity

In Australia, competition from A. capillaris, amongst other introduced grasses, is thought to pose a threat to the endangered plump swamp wallaby-grass (Amphibromus pithogastrus) in Victoria through direct competition and also by reducing the frequency of bare areas needed for seedling establishment. It is also likely to compete with the vulnerable small milkwort (Comesperma polygaloides) in grasslands on the basalt plains of western Victoria (Queensland Government, 2016).

In New Zealand grasslands, replacement of native forbs by A. capillaris has led to reductions in endemic grassland moths (White, 1991).

A. capillaris is one of the invasive non-native grass species listed as a threat to the Nelson’s checker-mallow (Sidalcea nelsoniana) in prairie grasslands in Oregon, USA (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012), while in Canada, it is one of the alien invasive plants threatening the brook spike-primrose, Epilobium torreyi (synonym of Boisduvalia stricta according to the Plant List (2013)), an annual plant species considered endangered in southwestern Canada: it has been reported from only two sites on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. A. capillaris competes with it for limited resources, including light, water and nutrients (Parks Canada Agency, 2011).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Amphibromus pithogastrusNational list(s) National list(s)VictoriaCompetition - monopolizing resources; Competition - smotheringQueensland Government, 2016
Boisduvalia strictaNational list(s) National list(s)British ColumbiaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesParks Canada Agency, 2011
Comesperma polygaloidesNational list(s) National list(s)VictoriaCompetition - monopolizing resourcesQueensland Government, 2016
Sidalcea nelsonianaUSA ESA listing as threatened species USA ESA listing as threatened species; ; Oregon; WashingtonCompetition - monopolizing resourcesUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2012

Social Impact

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As with many grasses, the pollen of A. capillaris is severely allergenic (, 2016).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its 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
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control


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Economic Value

A. capillaris is regarded as an agronomically valuable fodder and pasture grass for livestock production, occasionally cut for hay (USDA-APHIS, 2003; Quattrocchi, 2006). It is part of many garden lawn mixtures and in particular used for tennis courts and golf course fairways (Hubbard, 1954; Quattrocchi, 2006). In parts of its introduced range, production and export of A. capillaris seed has been economically important. New Zealand for example, produced over 450,000 kg of seed for export during the 1950s (Corkill and Rumball, 1980).

Social Benefit

As a lawn and golf course grass it has been widely grown in areas with mild (cool-humid) summers, including some parts of Australia (Queensland Government, 2016), northern Europe, the USA and New Zealand. Compared to A. stolonifera, A. capillaris has a more upright growth habit and does not spread aggressively, so is generally better adapted for tees and/or fairways in the warmer summer climates of the USA and numerous cultivars have been developed for these purposes (Bonos and Murphy, 2009).

Environmental Services

A. capillaris has been introduced and used outside its native range for erosion control and in rehabilitation work (Zhao et al., 2006; Queensland Government, 2016). It is a food source for herbivores, including rabbits (Tansley, 1949a, 1949b; Gillham, 1955).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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A. capillaris is a highly variable species with many cultivars recognized. Individual plants can differ greatly in size, habit, presence or absence of stolons or rhizomes, type of inflorescence and spikelet structure (GISD, 2016). There is wide phenotypic and genotypic variation in populations (Grime et al., 1988) and some of this variation may be the result of hybridization with A. stolonifera and A. castellana (Edgar and Forde, 1991).

Recent research suggests that much of what has been identified as A. capillaris in south-eastern Australia is actually highland bent (A. castellana), but implications for invasiveness and management are not clearly understood (Queensland Government, 2016). The most conclusive way to differentiate between the two species is to use vegetative characters. A. capillaris differs from A. castellana in having diffuse rather than clustered spikelets that are awnless, fewer rhizomes, divaricate panicle branches after anthesis, calluses that are glabrous or with hairs up to 0.1 mm long and glabrous lemmas. It also tends to flower somewhat earlier than A. castellana (Harvey, 2015). However, using spikelets primarily as a means of identification is inconclusive since field specimens of A. castellana often are found awnless as well. A. castellana is vigorously rhizomatous, has a longer ligule and has finer, rolled, grey-green leaves than A. capillaris (Batson, 1998; GISD, 2016).

A. capillaris differs from A. gigantea in its short ligules, especially on the vegetative shoots and the open panicles that lack spikelets near the base of the branches (Harvey, 2015).

A. capillaris is often confused with A. stolonifera (creeping bentgrass) and the two can form hybrids. Creeping bentgrass can be distinguished by its longer ligules (not coming to a point) and always having stolons. In addition, the panicle is open in A. capillaris and closed in A. stolonifera (Gateley, 2015; GISD, 2016; Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, 2016).

A. capillaris also readily hybridizes with A. vinealis, the hybrids being somewhat intermediate in morphology between the two parents (Harvey, 2015).

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 and Sanitary Measures

A. capillaris is highly adapted to grazing and tolerant of burning, so neither of these mechanisms can be used to control the species and can, in fact, result in increased abundance (Wilson, 1999; GISD, 2016). In cultivated areas, where A. capillaris can become a weed, short rotations with root crops may help reduce this species (Bond et al., 2007; GISD, 2016).

Physical/Mechanical Control

For Agrostis species in general, conventional control including physical removal is considered difficult or not feasible even when they exert a large negative impact on native biodiversity. However, for A. capillaris, mechanical removal by hand pulling, ploughing, grubbing and harrowing can reduce abundance. It can also prevent seeding when applied in spring or early summer before seed set (Morse and Palmer, 1925; Long, 1938). Manual removal is labour intensive and remaining pieces of broken stolons can re-establish (GISD, 2016).

Biological Control

There are no known biological control agents available for A. capillaris (Froude, 2002; GISD, 2016) and the value of the species worldwide as a commercial fodder and lawn grass may preclude any attempts at biological control.

Chemical Control

The graminicide cycloxydim has been used to effectively control A. capillaris in forest tree establishment situations (Clay et al., 2006). A. capillaris is also susceptible to the herbicides dalapon, hexazinone and sethoxydim, the last giving a 100% mean control rate (Evans, 1964; Hosaka, 1984; White et al., 1990), while glyphosate applied before emergence reduces growth rate (Salazar, 1982). The introduction of glyphosate resistance into A. capillaris by genetic engineering (USDA-APHIS, 2003) may have implications for the species’ invasiveness, spread and control.


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29/02/2016 Original text by:

Norbert Maczey, CABI, Egham, UK

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