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Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

Bermudagrass, Common stargrass, Baramagrass, Dhubgrass, Devilgrass

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


A valuable pasture and excellent fodder grass, staying green during hot weather. It can grow in very diverse conditions of soil and moisture, withstanding drought well and also tending to eliminate other plants. Provides more and better grazing for horses and cattle than any other grass; also used for hay and ensilage. The rhizomes are given to horses. It is also valuable for soil conservation due to its long runners that root at the nodes. It is difficult to eradicate and can become a serious weed in cultivated land. In many areas it is used for lawn and turf, and in Hawaii it is considered an excellent lawngrass.

Folk Medicine

Bermudagrass is reported to be alterative, anecbolic, antiseptic, aperient, astringent, cyanogenetic, demulcent, depurative, diuretic, emollient, sudorific, and vulnerary (Duke and Wain, 1981); it is reported to be photosensitizing in animals, to cause contact dermatitis (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis, 1977), and hayfever (Degener, 1957-1963). It is a folk remedy for anasarca, calculus, cancer, carbuncles, convulsions, cough, cramps, cystitis, diarrhea, dropsy, dysentery, epilepsy, headache, hemorrhage, hypertension, hysteria, insanity, kidneys, laxative, measles, rubella, snakebite, sores, stones, tumors, urogenital disorders, warts, and wounds (Duke and Wain, 1981).


Per 100 g, the wet matter is reported to contain on a zero-moisture basis 11.6 g protein, 2.1 g fat, 75.9 g total carbohydrate, 25.9 g fiber, 10.4 g ash, 530 mg Ca, 220 mg P, 112.0 mg Fe, 1630 mg K, 28 ug beta-carotene equivalent (Miller, 1958). Bermudagrass is reported to contain cynodin, hydrocyanic acid, and triticin (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).


Hardy, perennial grass, very variable, with long rapid-growing, creeping runner or stolons, rooting at nodes, forming a dense tuft on the surface of the soil, runners sometimes 20 m long; leaves 2.5-20 cm long, 2-6 mm broad, flat or sometimes folded or convolute; inflorescence on culms 15 cm to 1 m tall consisting of 2-12 spikes arranged star-like at apex of stem; spikes 2.5-10 cm long with numerous spikelets, arranged in 2 rows on one side of spike; spikelets flat, 2-2.5 mm long, awnless, with 1 floret; glumes unequal, the upper longer and one-third to three-fourths length of floret. Seeds 3,940,335/kg. Fl. nearly throughout year in warmer regions, July-Oct. northward.


Reported from the Hindustani Center of Diversity, Bermudagrass or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate alkali, disease, drought, frost, grazing, herbicide, high pH, heavy metal, heavy soil, insects, laterite, low pH, nematodes, peat, poor soil, salt, sand, sewage and sludge, slope, smog, SO2, ultraviolet, virus, waterlogging and weeds (Duke, 1978). Plants vary greatly in habit according to soil and climate, and occur in several natural strains which differ widely in size, color (bright, yellow-green to dull blue-green), texture of stars and leaves, size of spikes, and grazing value. Most varieties are poor seeders and are propagated by creeping stem. 'Grout Stargrass', found in moist warm regions of Lake Victoria is rather large, has relatively good seeding qualities, but low degree of palatability. 'Sunturf Bermuda' produces few seeds and is a triploid hybrid between C. dactylon and C. transvaalensis. Most of the cultivars have been selected from hybrids, or on the basis of fodder value, turf-forming ability, or resistance to leaf-spot disease. Some useful cultivars are 'Bayshore', 'Coastal', 'Coastcross 'Everglades', 'Greenfield', 'Midland', 'Midway', 'NK-37', 'No Mow', 'Ormond', 'Pee Dee 102', 'Royal Cape', 'Santa Ana', 'Sunturf', 'Suwanee', 'Texturf 1F', 'Texturf 10', 'Tifdwarf', 'Tiffine', 'Tifgreen', 'Tiflawn', 'Tifway', 'Tufcote', 'U-3', and 'Uganda'. (2n = 30, 36, 40)


Probably native to East Africa where it is widely distributed from sea level to 2,160 m altitude. It can now be found throughout the world in temperate and subtropical regions. In temperate zones, it grows along sea coasts; in tropics, most commonly in areas with 670-1750 mm rainfall; in arid zones. along rivers and on irrigated land; in India it can be found up to 2600 m altitude.


Ranging from Cool Temperate Steppe to Wet through Tropical Desert to Wet Forest Life Zones, Bermudagrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 0.9 to 42.9 dm (mean of 84 cases = 12.8), annual temperature of 5.9 to 27.8°C (mean of 84 cases = 19.5), and pH of 4.3 to 8.4 (mean of 74 cases = 6.4). (Duke, 1978). It can form dense cover in almost pure stands, practically anywhere. Abundant as weed along roadsides, in lawns, on sandy wastes, along sand dunes, and readily takes possession of any uncultivated area. Unproductive in poor dry soils, it is best adapted to relatively fertile, well-drained soils, pH 6.0-7.0, in humid areas. Plants withstand long periods of drought, as they produce little growth in dry weather.


Plants readily propagated by cuttings and rooting. Common method is to plant rooting 30-60 cm apart in furrows, and to press down with feet. Plants spread very quickly from the rooted runners, which grow more than 7.5 cm/day. Planting is best done in wet weather to ensure quick sprouting. Most cultivars are poor seeders. In others, propagation is by seed, sown at rate of 7-9 kg/ha. Plants give complete ground cover in 4-8 weeks when sprigged 30-45 cm apart. It succeeds on most soil types and requires very little mowing on poor soils. To check its spread as a weed, deep plowing and hand-digging during hot weather and exposure to sun can help eradicate bermudagrass. Land can be sown to wheat; cultivation methods necessary for wheat crop destroy this grass.


It should be cut for hay when in full bloom. Normally 4 cuttings per year are possible. When properly made and stocked, hay keeps well for many years. Hay may be mixed with molasses to extent of 1.0% and ensilaged.

Yields and Economic

Silage made from heavily fertilized 'Coastal', properly ensilaged before 35 days old, can produce as much milk as corn silage at a cheaper cost. Dehydrated, this cultivar may be substituted for alfalfa as a source of vitamin A and xanthophyll for poultry feeds. Processors producing pellets for poultry, manage the grass for hay but apply 672 kg N/ha/yr plus P and K, and cut the grass every 21-24 days, giving yields of 15.7 MT pellets/ha/season. Most commercial seed is produced in Arizona and southern California. With one or two crops harvested annually, seed yields range from 112-224 kg/ha (Reed, 1976). In a Texas survey, bermudagrass was determined to fix nitrogen at a rate of 33 kg/ha/100 days in the rhizosphere, cf. 26 for Paspalum urvillei, 20 for Brachiaria sp., and 20 for Andropogon gerardi. Bermudagrass is a major warm-season grass that is used extensively in temperate and sub-tropical areas for forage, hay, ensilage, turf, and as a soil binder. In the US, it is extensively used from Maryland to Florida and west to irrigated areas of the Southwest. It can become a serious pest in cultivated lands; difficult to eradicate; its thick network of runners can starve out crops and vast areas of land may become unfit for cultivation.


According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981), annual productivity ranges from 4 to 52 MT/ha (13-17 in Australia, 4-52 in Cuba, 7-11 in India, 5-10 in Mexico, 23 in Pakistan, 25 in Puerto Rico, 12 in Rhosesia, 26 in S. Africa, 4-26 in the US). Average yields of hay range from 14-28 MT/ha, with the amount of nitrogen in or added to the soil increasing the yield (Reed, 1976). Cynodon aethiopicus may have DM yields of 12 MT/ha, C. nlemfluensis 2-27, and C. plectostachyus 12-60.

Biotic Factors

Many fungi have been reported on this grass: Acrothecium vaqueanum, Alternaria tenuis, Amerodiscosiella renispora, Apiospora montagnei, Ascochyta graminicola, Balansia cynodontis, Cercospora seminalis, Cerebella andropogonis, C. cynodontis, Cladosporium graminum, C. herbarum, Claviceps cynodontis, C. purpurea, Coniosporium gramineum, C. rhizophilum, Corticium sasakii, C. fuciforme, C. solani, Curvularia lunata, Cylindrosporium erysiphoides, Dimeriella erysipheoides, Dinemasporium gramineum, D. erysipheoides, D. strigosum, Diplodina graminea, Ephelis mexicana, Erysiphe graminis, Fusarium equiseti, F. heterosporum, F. nivale, F. scirpi var. filiforum, F. sporotrichioides, Gloeocercospora sp., Gloeosporium bolleyi, Helicobasidium purpureum, Helminthosporium cynodontis, H. giganteum, H. rostratum, H. sativum, H. speciferum, H. stenospilum, H. triseptatum, H. triticirepentis, Hendersonia baudysi, Hyphoderma cynodontis, Leptostromella cynodontis, Macrophoma sp., Marasmius graminis, M. oreades, Mendozia cynodontis, Monotospora daleae, Mucilage spongiosa, Nigrospora oryzae, Papularia arundinis, Periconia lateralis, P. madreeya, P. pycnospora, Phyllachora cynodontis, P. graminiis., Phymatotrichum omnivorum, Physarum cinereum, P. vernum, Physoderma cynodontis, P. graminis, Piricularis grisea, Puccinia cynodontis, P. desmazieresi, P. graminis, Pyrenochaeta terrestris, Pythium debaryanum, P. aphanidermatum, Rhizoctonia solani, R. grisea, Sclerospora farlowii, Sclerotinia homeocarpa, S. portoricense, Sclerotium rolfsii, Septoria cynodontis, Spegazzinia ornata, Stemphylium ilicis, Sorosporium reilianum, S. syntherismae, Tanatephorus cucumeris, Ustilago cynodontis, U. hitchcockiana, U. paraquariensis. This grass is also attacked by the bacterium Xanthomonas cynodontis, by the parasitic flowering plants Cuscuta pentagona, Nuytsia floribunda, Strigna harmonithica, and S. lutea, and by the viruses barley yellow dwarf and lucerne dwarf. Nematodes isolated from this plant include the following species: Aphelenchus avenae, Basiria graminophila, Belonolaimus gracilis, B. longicaudatus, Boleodorus mirus, Criconeomella sphaerocephala, Dolichodorus heterocephalus, D. nigeriensis, Helicotylenchus erythrinae, H. dihystera, H. pseudorobustus, H. indicus, Hemicycliophora sp., Heterodera graminis, Hoplolaimus galeatus, H. tylenchiformis, Meloidogyne graminis, M.. incognita acrita, M. javanica, Paratylenchus projectus, Peltamigratus christiei, Pratylenchus brachyurus, P. coffeae, P. pratensis., P. zeae, Radopholus similes, Rotylenchulus sp., R. cocheni, Telotylenchus indicus, Trichodorus christiei, T. proximus, Tylenchorhynchus acutus, T. claytoni, T. elegans.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 9, 1996