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Bermudagrass

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Bermudagrass
C. dactylon (3).jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
  • C. dactylon
  • C. nlemfuensis
    • C. n. nlemfuensis
    • C. n. robustus.[1]
C. dactylon (4).jpg
C. dactylon

Bermudagrass are any of the species of grasses assigned to the taxonomic genus Cynodon. It is a variable perennial grass that spreads with the use of stolons, rhizoids, and by seed. The C. dactylon species is the most widespread of all the species and they all exhibit similar qualities. Bermudagrass is used in many environments. The turf is utilized to prevent soil erosion, to stabilize banks of ditches, airfields, and roadsides, beautify landscapes, and as a playing surface for sports fields and park areas. In addition to these uses, Cynodon provides both pasture and feeding hay for livestock. However, it is also regarded as a very troublesome weed. Bermudagrass is tough to eradicate because of its plentiful seed production and extensive underground rhizomes. The grass causes trouble especially in sugarcane crops, cotton crops, corn crops, and vineyards. The grass was introduced from Africa originally in 1751 and has spread throughout many countries. [2] [3]

Body Design

The thin, flowering stems of C. dactylon

The low growing, wiry bermudagrass has two different kinds of shoots. It has above ground shoots known as stolons, and below ground shoots known as rhizomes. Both the rhizomes and stolons have the capability of rooting in the soil and therefore growing new grass from the original grasses. Bermudagrass rhizomes are shallow ones when they are rooted in undisturbed soil, they range in length from 1 to 6 inches in this type of environment. However, when the bermudagrass is growing in tilled or spaded soil, in sandy soil, under sidewalks, and against solid structures like walls, the rhizomes have the potential to grow beyond 6 inches. Bermudagrass leaves in general are smooth and pointed with a ring of white hairs at the junction of the sheath and blade. The straighter stems usually have a paper-like leaf sheath at each node; these stems root at the nodes in wet soil. The flowering stems of bermudagrass are upright and have a terminal group of 3-7 branches that resemble spikes. These branches usually originate in a single whorl on the stem's tip. Bermudagrass's flowering stems are similar to the stems of crabgrass. The individual spikes of these flowering stems originate at the end of the stem and are 1 to 2 inches long and bear two rows of spikelets (smaller spikes) along one side of a flattened central stem of a spike (also known as a rachis). [2]

Life Cycle

Bermudagrass plants begin with the growth of a seed that is usually distributed by wind, rain, or humans. When the seed is under favorable conditions with ample sun, moisture, and nutritious soil, it will germinate. With the energy stored in the seed, the grass will develop a root system that will then support stems and leaves. When the grass has grown a more extensive root system and above ground growth it will no longer rely on the seed's stored energy for nutrition. Instead, like most plants, it will produce energy for itself by performing photosynthesis and from obtaining water and nutrients from the soil in which it is planted in. The low-growing bermudagrass is a perennial that has two different kinds of shoots. The stolons are its above ground shoots and the rhizomes are the below ground shoots. Both shoots are capable of rooting in dirt and then can create new plants as they grow out from the original parent plant or when the grass is cut and left on wet soil. The above ground stolons will spread out as the plant grows, as this occurs they will start their own root system and form the new bermudagrass. Along with the spreading of stolons and rhizomes, bermudagrass reproduces by sexual reproduction. The plant grows a tall stem that has a cluster of thin filaments which have very small green flowers. These tiny flowers have anthers, the male reproductive organ, that produce pollen and the pistil, the female reproductive organ. When pollen from the anthers is transferred and comes in contact with the pistil, it releases sperm which goes into the base of the pistil where the ovules are located. After this fertilization, the ovules will begin to form seeds that will soon germinate and grow new bermudagrass after they are released from the plant. [4] [2]

Ecology

Bermudagrass growing near the water in Maui Hawaii.

Bermudagrass in general is a warm season grass. The grass is widely grown in areas between about 30 degrees south and 30 degrees north latitude. These areas usually receive between 24.6-69 inches of rainfall per year; however there are some cases where irrigation aids in watering the grass. In general bermudagrass can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, it just needs adequate water and a reasonably warm year-round temperature. Though it is not native to the U.S., bermudagrass is predominantly found in the southern half of the country where the climate is warm. New jersey and Maryland are the northernmost states and the distribution then moves south toward Florida and west to Texas and Kansas. However, with the aid of irrigation, the grass can be found in New Mexico, Arizona, and in California. Bermudagrass can also be found in countries including Australia, India, Africa, and South America where the climate is well suited for its growth. Of the species of bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon is by far the most widespread. Even though in certain situations the grass can be very desirable and useful, there are many situations in which bermudagrass is regarded as a serious weed. The grass is known to invade crops that grow in wet areas and can be very difficult to stop and get rid of. The eradication and prevention is difficult because the grass can spread quickly with its rapid seep production and because once it is in the ground, the deep rhizomes make it hard to kill and remove. [3] [5]

Like almost every plant, bermudagrass has problems with pests. These problems usually grow with higher levels of management or human interaction. The use of fertilization with high nitrogen rates, the uses of chemicals, and even mowing too close to the ground can all increase bermudagrass's vulnerability to diseases and harmful insects. Pests that eat the foliage of bermudagrass include: armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms, bermudagrass mites, and Rhodegrass scale (mealybug). The bermuda grass mites and Rhodegrass scales suck juices from the grass's stems stunting its growth. White grubs are also pests to bermudagrass and can severely damage the plant by feeding on its roots. Along with pests that harm bermudagrass, the plant can also host some pests including chiggers, ants, and ticks. Even with all these threats, bermudagrass can manage a moderately low amount of pests, but they must be under good management. However, when the population levels get too high on and around bermudagrass, management will have to use biological and chemical killing methods to save the life of the grass. A few diseases also affect bermudagrass, these include dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brownpatch, and Pythium. These fungal diseases attack the grass and, if not treated properly, can truly damage the turf. Fungicides are often used to combat these diseases. And finally, as with almost every plant, weeds can harm bermudagrass. When the grass is not grown strongly and abundantly, weeds can quickly invade the grass. [3]

Use of Bermudagrass in Sports

Many hybrids of bermudagrass are used around the globe for different sports. Arguably, the use of the grass is best known on tennis courts and golf courses. Depending on the climatic conditions of the area in which they are located, golf courses and tennis courts will use different hybrids. In general, the groundskeepers for these venues value the color of the grass, its toughness and resiliency, and how quickly it spreads out over large areas.[3]

Gallery

References

  1. Unknown. Bermudagrass-Name-Search.USDA. Access-05/02/2012 03:59 PM CDT.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 D. W. Cudney, Botany/Plant Sciences emeritus, UC Riverside; C. L. Elmore, Veg Crops/Weed Science emeritus, UC Davis, C. E. Bell, UC Cooperative Extension, San Diego Co. [1].Bermudagrass. Revised 5/07.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Duble, Richard. [2].Aggie-Horticulture. Access-05/08/2012.
  4. Whittemore, Frank,. [3].Life Cycle of Bermuda Grass. Accessed 5/23.
  5. Unknown. [4].Cynodon dactylon. Access-05/08/2012.