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Paspalum notatum Flugge

Bahiagrass, Common bahai, Pensacola bahai

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 unpublished.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


An important forage grass in natural pastures in Central and South America, and used for lowland pastures elsewhere where cultivated. Essentially for pastures only, persisting well under grazing and trampling. Recommended more for beef than for milk production. It is noted as a drought-resistant soil binder, producing massive stolon-root systems. Chopped stolons are rejected by sheep unless molasses and soybean are added. Cattle, withheld from feed for 2 days, consumed the stolons satisfactorily.

Folk Medicine

No data available.


Per 100 g, the herbage is reported to contain 28.0–32.9% DM (mean of 8 cases = 30.6) and ZMB: g protein (mean of 16 cases = 8.5), 1.0–2.1 g fat (mean of 16 cases = 1.6), 28.2–33.9 g fiber (mean of 16 cases = 31.6), 46.1–51.9 g NFE (mean of 16 cases = 48.1), 6.0–12.6 g ash (mean of 16 cases = 10.2), 460–520 mg Ca, 210–410 mg P (mean of 3 cases = 330), 170 mg Mg, and 1,450 mg K. Contains as much as 28 ppm HCN. Gohl (1981) reports the following:

As % of dry matter
Fresh, early bloom, Brazil 7.4 31.3 12.0 1.2 48.0
Fresh, mid-bloom, Brazil 8.4 28.1 13.5 2.3 47.8
Fresh, late bloom, Lao 13.0 34.5 6.8 4.0 41.7
Hay, Brazil 12.3 33.5 11.4 1.4 41.4


Low-growing, sod-forming perennial grass, from a mass of thick, short, branching rhizomes, deep-rooted; culms erect, numerous, 2–5 dm long, compressed, 1.5–3 mm thick on the long axis; ligule a scale 0.2–0.3 mm long; leaves mostly basal, aggregated in tufts at ground level, 7–20 cm long, 3–6 mm broad, mostly flat or folded, rather stiffly straight; panicle axis 1–2 mm long or rarely up to 10 mm; racemes 2, rarely 3, subconjugate, thick, usually 3–12 cm long; rachis about 1 mm broad, triangular in section, the margins narrower than the central spikelet-bearing rib; spikelets solitary, very compressed, ovate to obovate, 2.5–3.8 cm long; first glume always absent; second glume and sterile lemma glabrous, shiny. Seeds 336,030/kg (Reed, 1976).


Reported from the South American Center of Diversity, bahiagrass, or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate disease, drought, frost, grazing, high pH, laterite, low pH, salt, slope, and savannah (Duke, 1978). Several geographic races and strains are recognized in the United States. 'Argenite', developed in Florida from Argentina, has leaves wider than those of 'Pensacola', but narrower than those of common, is preferred by cattle, is medium cold-resistant, making most growth during midsummer, but is very susceptible to ergot; adapted throughout Florida and the Coastal areas of the Southern States. 'Paraguay', introduced and established early along Gulf Coast, is used to some extent as general-purpose turfgrass. 'Paraguay 22', developed in Georgia from Paraguay stock, used only in testing. 'Pensacola', developed in Florida from Georgia stock, and thought to have come from South or Central America, is more cold hardy, has narrower blades, smaller seeds, and is more responsive to fertilizer than Common Bahiagrass; its seed-germination is excellent, with full stands and ground cover in 8–12 weeks; adapted throughout southeastern Coastal Plain and Florida. 'Tifhi l' and 'Tifhi 2' and 'Pensacola X Common' are hybrids developed in Georgia. 'Tifhi 2' is more disease resistant than 'Tifhi l' and yields 7% more dry forage. All are high yielders. 'Wilmington' is perhaps the most frost resistant cv. (2x = 20; 4x = 40) (Reed, 1976).


Native to Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina. Introduced in Florida and along Gulf Coast in United States and to East and West Africa. Nearly throughout the West Indies (Reed, 1976).


Ranging from Cool Temperate Moist to Wet through Tropical Dry to Wet Forest Life Zones, bahiagrass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 3.1 to 41.0 dm (mean of 12.7 cases = 33), annual temperature of 5.9 to 27.8°C (mean of 33 cases = 21.0), and pH of 4.3 to 8.4 (mean of 29 cases = 6.2) (Duke, 1978, 1979). Long-day plant, adapted to tropical and subtropical areas, with moderate to high well-distributed rainfall. Found on open ground, savannas, and pastures, up to 2,000 m. Its deep-rooted habit helps it to withstand considerable drought. Best grown in sandy soils with pH of 6.5–7.5. Responds well to nitrogen fertilizer. Maximum tillering occurs at 20–25°C. Has survived -10°C in Australia. Temperatures below 13°C at night inhibit flowering. Reported to tolerate 4,500 ppm NaCl in irrigaton water (9,000–27,000 greatly reduced photosynthesis and transpiration, but barely affects respiration), and 36 days continuous flooding (Reed, 1976).


Propagated easily from seed, sown 1.3–2.5 cm deep on clean, well-prepared seedbed. Germination is often slow, but improved by scarifying seed with sulfuric acid. Optimum germination temperature is 30–35°C. Seeding rates vary from 10–22 kg/ha. Growth habit makes it difficult to maintain legumes in the sward, thus it becomes sod-bound rapidly.


Seed production is low and is often reduced further by ergot. It is normally harvested from established pastures.

Yields and Economics

Seed yields are low. Herbage yields of 17 MT/ha are reported under irrigation and fertilization in Australia. With 900 kg/ha N, in Rhodesia, yields were 20.7 MT in year 1, 20.4 in year 2, and 15.7 in year 3. With irrigation, yields reached 37 MT/ha. However, yields of 4–5 MT/ha were considered maximum in India and Uganda. In general, yields of 3–8 MT can be expected with moderate fertilization. Beef yields of ca 200 kg/ha are reported on 'Pensacola' at Tifton, Georgia, nearly twice the beef yields on 'Paraguay', but yields as high as 500 kg/ha are reported. On acid infertile mineral soils in Florida, beef production from legume/grass pastures exceeded that from grass alone. Fodder production and N content of bahiagrass/white clover pasture without fertilizer, yielded 11.4 MT/ha cf 11.8 fertilized with 224 kg N/ha (Blue, 1980).


According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from 2 to 37 MT/ha; 17 in Australia, 10–14 in Cuba, 4 in India, 18–24 in Thailand, 5 in Uganda, 2–12 in the US, and 21–37 in Zimbabwe. Other Paspalum yields are 1–2 MT/ha in P. commersonii, 3–29 (-140) in P. conjugatum, 1–26 in P. dilatatum, 6 in P. guenoarum, 3–11 in P. nicorae, 2–8 in P. plicatulum, and 26–50 in P. vaginatum (Duke, 1981b). Some species are said to fix more than 25 kg/ha/yr N.

Biotic Factors

Following fungi have been reported on bahiagrass: Cladosporium herbarum, Claviceps paspali, C. purpurea, Fusarium heterosporum, Omphalia sp., Phyllachora andropogonis (P. cornispora), Puccinia substriata, Sphacelotheca paspali-notati, Ustilago paspali. Nematodes isolated from bahiagrass include the following: Belonolaimus longicaudatus, Helicotylenchus cavenessi, H. dihystera, H. pseudorobustus, Hoplolaimus pararobustus, Meloidogyne arenaria, M. graminis, M. incognita, M. incognita acrita, M. javanica, Pratylenchus brachyurus, P. pratensis, Radopholus similis, Scutellonema clathricaudatum, Trichodorus christiei, Tylenchorhynchus claytoni, Xiphinema ifacolum (Golden, p.c. 1984).


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw