Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Paspalum dilatatum

 Paspalum dilatatum (Poaceae)
One of my treasured books is Pasture Legumes and Grasses which was published by The Bank of New South Wales in Sydney in June of 1961. It gives the botanical history of this South American native grass which was introduced into Australia in the 1890's by German Australian botanist Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller (1825-1896). This "tough as" pasture grass 'provided a foundation for the dairying industries' of both New South Wales and Queensland and of course eventually made its way into the suburban backyards of coastal cities and towns. By mid-twentieth century mischievous boys had learnt that if you tied the flower stalks together you could easily trip up a few of your opponents in a backyard game of footy or cricket.
Present day applications for its use could include as a 'scratch proof' ground cover for chicken pen/'ranch' and it is probably goat grazing proof as well.
The only down side to that suggestion is that the developing flower heads and seed can be affected by ergot fungus which, by reputation, can lead those who have ingested it to imagine they have entered the world of an Heironymus Bosch painting.

Meanwhile, my lawn, which consists of at least 45% Paspalum, needs mowing.

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