Kikuyugrass [Pennisetum clandestinum Hochst. ex Chiov.][PESCL][CalEPPC: need more information][CDFA list: C][Federal Noxious Weed] Photographs

Crimson fountaingrass [Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Chiov.][PESSA][CalEPPC: A-1] Photographs

Feathertop [Pennisetum villosum R.Br. ex Fresen.][Bayer code: none] Photographs

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GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Warm climate perennials that have escaped cultivation in mild coastal to warm arid areas of California. Kikuyugrass was originally planted in California as an erosion-controlling ground cover. Crimson fountaingrass and feathertop are common landscape ornamentals and are grown as annuals in cold winter areas. Both are adapted to periodic fire.

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SEEDLINGS: No descriptions available.

MATURE PLANT: Blades rolled in bud, folded or flat, glabrous to sparsely short-hairy, midveins pronounced on underside. Blade margins often minutely serrate (10x magnification). Ligules consist of a fringe of white hairs ~ 1-2 mm long. Auricles lacking. Collar margins densely ciliate with long white hairs. Sheaths open, +/- creased at the center.


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SPIKELETS/FLORETS: Below each spikelet or small cluster of spikelets are long, flexible bristles that disperse with spikelets. Spikelets lanceolate, consist of a lower glume-like sterile floret and an upper fertile floret. Lower glume reduced or lacking. Upper glume about as long as the sterile lemma. Grains (seeds) oblong to obovoid, ~ 2-3 mm long.

HABITAT: Disturbed sites, roadsides, urban places. These species grow best in areas with mild winters that receive some summer moisture. Plants tolerate periods of drought, light shade, and most soil types, but do not survive prolonged periods of freezing temperatures.

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PROPAGATION/PHENOLOGY: Apomictic (asexual reproduction where embryos develop without fertilization) and to a smaller degree, out-crossing. Pollination is required for apomictic seed development. Seeds of crimson fountaingrass and feathertop require several months (fall through early to mid-spring) to mature. Flower heads typically remain intact during this period. Most seeds germinate late spring through early summer. All utilize the C4 photosynthetic pathway and are +/- winter dormant.

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MANAGEMENT FAVORING/DISCOURAGING SURVIVAL: Early detection and hand removal of individual plants can help prevent the spread of these species. Discing kikuyugrass can expand infestations by spreading rhizome and stolon fragments. Cleaning agricultural and landscape maintenance equipment after use in infested areas can prevent the introduction of propagules to uninfested sites. Crimson fountaingrass and feathertop recover quickly after fire and may increase in density after a burn.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Unlike kikuyugrass, bermudagrass has conspicuous umbel-like flower heads, stolons typically less than 4 mm wide that are not swollen at the nodes, and blades that lack a pronounced midvein and are typically folded in bud. Crimson fountaingrass and feathertop have distinct flower heads that are present (in different stages) throughout much of the year and are unlikely to be confused with other weedy grasses.

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