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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

Kikuyugrass — Pennisetum clandestinum

Photo of kikuyugrass Illustration of collar of kikuyugrass
Collar of kikuyugrass Illustration of overall plant of kikuyugrass
Overall plant structure of kikuyugrass

Qualities

Kikuyugrass is a warm-season grass that spreads quickly and thrives in areas with moderate temperatures. It can tolerate heat and will do well under relatively shady conditions. Because of its extremely vigorous growth habit, it is considered to be a weed in coastal and some inland areas of California. It is seldom established as a desired turfgrass. It has a low disease incidence and is susceptible to cold but is able to recover quickly from moderate wear or severe injury. Although once considered to be primarily a weed, kikuyugrass is now sometimes managed as a turf species.

Identifying tips
A coarse-textured, light green grass, sometimes mistaken for St. Augustinegrass. The leaves are folded in the bud, the ligule is a fringe of hairs, and there are no auricles. It has slightly flattened, hairy leaf sheaths and tapering leaf blades with files of hairs. Kikuyugrass spreads by its thick rhizomes and vigorous stolons.

Maintenance

Low maintenance. It can tolerate low fertility and high heat. It can recover from drought conditions. Kikuyugrass has a low tolerance for cold temperatures. It has a tendency to "scalp" when mowed short.

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