Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Dallisgrass

Magazine article Landscape & Irrigation

Dallisgrass

Article excerpt

What does it look like?

Dallisgrass, Paspalum dilatatum, is a perennial, course-textured grass that grows in circular clumps, gradually spreading and increasing in diameter as its shallow stems, or rhizomes, grow outward. In young stages, dallisgrass appears almost identical to crabgrass. Compared to other turfgrasses, dallisgrass leaves are relatively wide, 1/4- to 1/2-inch, rolled, light green in color and have some hair growing near the ligule, which is tall, membranous and sharp-tipped. If left unmowed, leaves can grow up to 10 inches long.

Dallisgrass seedstalks can grow several feet high, consisting of a purplish base and a flowering head crowned by several branches, or racemes. Individual racemes have two rows of oval-shaped spikelets, each containing the plant's seeds.

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Host material and range

Native to South America, dallisgrass was accidentally introduced into the states, and later adopted as a forage plant. Today, found predominantly in the southern United States, dallisgrass thrives in hot, wet areas, including roadsides and irrigation ditches. This highly invasive weed germinates in spring and early summer when soil temperatures reach 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The grass also flourishes in home lawns, golf courses and athletic fields, spreading rapidly when air temperatures range from 80 to 90 degrees.

Dallisgrass is extremely tolerant and can grow in sandy and clay soils. Once the grass is established, it resists both drought and frost. Unlike many warm-season grasses, dallisgrass does not go off-color during the winter months.

Current threat

In heavily infested areas, dallisgrass plants join together and form a coarse and uneven-textured area. When found on sports fields or home lawns, these clumpy plantings can cause people to trip and fall.

Due to its course texture, the grass is often passed over by mowers, causing the stalks to spring back and continue to grow longer than the surrounding turf, giving it a very unsightly appearance. …

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