Pangola Grass
Digitaria eriantha

syn: D. decumbens, D. pentzii, D. eriantha subsp. Pentzii

Also known as: Digitgrass

Summary


Common Name

Its common name is Pangola grass, Pongola grass, pangola digit grass (Bogdan).

Scientific Name

The scientific name is Digitaria eriantha (Syn: D. decumbens, D. pentzii, D. eriantha subsp. Pentzii).

Cultivars

'Transvala' and 'Pangola' are recommended by Hawai`i NRCS, 'Pangola' being reported as root knot nematode resistant.

Seed Description

Pangola grass does not produce viable seed (Bogdan).

Seedling Description

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Mature Plant Description

Pangola grass is a stoloniferous perennial. Stems are up to 120 cm (47 in) high. The leaves are linear-lanceolate to linear, 10-25 cm (4-10 in) long and 2-7 mm wide. The inflorescence has one to two whorls with 5 to 10 spikes that are up to 13 cm (5 in) long each, with many spikelets 2.7-3.0 mm long (Bogdan).

Temperature

Pangola grass is a tropical to subtropical species. Roots grow best at soil temperatures of 27-30°C (80.6-86°F). Little growth is observed below 16°C (60.8°F) and above 41° (104°F) (Bogdan). In Hawai`i it grows well between 25-40°C (77-104°F) (FAO).

Origin and Geographic Distribution

Pangola grass is thought to originate in the Pongola River in the eastern Transvaal in South Africa or in adjacent Zululand districts. It was first cultivated near Pretoria, South Africa. It has since been introduced to the USA, West Indies, Central America, and northern parts of South America. Subsequently it was brought to Australia, West and East Africa, the Philippines, Hawai`i, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia. It is now cultivated in the majority of subtropical, tropical and temperate warm countries (Bogdan).

Ecology

Pangola grass originates from a country with annual rainfalls ranging between 500 to 900 mm (about 20-35 in) and with a well-pronounced dry season (Bogdan).

Water

Pangola grass grows best under humid conditions with rainfalls that reach or exceed 1000 mm (about 40 in). It canwithstand drought. It can tolerate slight waterlogging but not sustained flooding. It originates from a country with annual rainfalls ranging between 500 to 900 mm (about 20-35 in) and with a well-pronounced dry season (Bogdan).

Nutrients

Pangola grass responds well to NPK and micronutrient fertilization (especially Cu). Fertilizer N decreases Pangola grass tolerance to low temperatures and should not be applied when cool/cold season approaches (Bogdan).

Soil pH

Pangola grass tolerates a broad pH range from 4.5 to 8.0 (Bogdan).

Soil Type

Pangola grass will grow on a wide range of soils, and slightly less well on clays than loams. It is tolerant of Al in the soil (Bogdan).

Shade Tolerance

Pangola grass has fair shade tolerance (NRCS).

Salinity Tolerance

Pangola grass is tolerant of small to moderate amounts of sodium or sodium chloride in the soil (Bogdan).

Herbicide Sensitivity

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Life Cycle

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Seeding Rate

Pangola grass does not produce viable seed and is propagated vegetatively (Bogdan).

Seeding Depth

Not applicable.

Seeding Method

Not applicable.

Seeding Dates

Not applicable.

Inoculation

Not applicable.

Seed Cost

Not applicable.

Seed Availability

Not available.

Days to Flowering

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Days to Maturity

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Seed Production

Pangola grass is propagated vegetatively (Bogdan). A small nursery for planting larger areas can easily be established from a few vegetative sprigs or stolons.

Seed Storage

Not applicable.

Growth Habit

Pangola grass grows vigorously and spreads rapidly by stolons. It does not produce viable seeds (FAO).

Maximum Height

Pangola grass grows to a maximum height of about 120-cm (47 in) high but is usually much shorter (Bogdan).

Root System

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Establishment

Maintenance

Maintain adequate fertilization and thatch removal to prevent insect pests (Hanna).

Mowing

No information is available in this database on this topic. When grazed, pangola grass gives satisfactory growth and performance under almost any density of grazing (Bogdan).

Incorporation

Not applicable. Not used as a green manure.

Harvesting

Although primarily used for grazing, pangola can be hayed and made into silage, which is done in Florida (Bogdan).

Equipment

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Uses

Mixtures

Pangola grass is aggressive and tends to suppress the companion legume in grass/legume mixtures. This is accentuated by nitrogen fertilizer additions (which decreases or eliminates the legumes). In Hawai`i, Whitney (1970) reported a decrease in Desmodium intortum grown with Pangola from 50% to below 10% when 410 kg N/ha was applied. This was further reduced to below 1% when cuts were reduced from 10 to 5 weeks.

In Hawai`i a pangola grass/D. intortum mixture did well and gave 10.8-17.0 tons dry matter/ha as compared to 7.5 tons with a pangola/D. canum mixture or 3.8 tons from pangola alone (Bogdan).

While many legumes have been grown with pangola grass (Trifolium repens, Lotononis bainesii, Centrosema pubescens, Macroptilium atropurpureum, Desmodium spp., Glycine wightii, Stylosanthes guianensis), in general the legumes do not last more than 2 or 3 years (Bogdan).

The FAO reports that pangola does well with Lotonis bainesii. In Florida, it has been grown satisfactorily with Stylosanthes humilis and Macroptilium atropurpureum with low N additions.

Biomass

No information is available in this database on this topic.

N Contribution

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Non-N Nutrient Contribution

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Effects on Water

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Effects on Soil

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Effects on Livestock

This grass has no toxicity to animals (FAO). Crude protein content of Pangola grass ranges between 3 to 14% of the dry matter. In Hawai`i, Plucknett (1970) reported liveweight gains of 700-850 kg/ha on Pangola grass that had been limed and fertilized with N. Usual liveweight gains reported range from 100 to 400 kg/ha (Bogdan).

Pest Effects, Insects

The yellow sugar-cane aphid (Sipha flava) is an important pest in the Caribbean area (Florida, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba).

Armyworms of the genera Laphigma, Spodoptera and Mocis occasionally cause severe damage.

Taxoptera graminis, Blissus leucopterus, Antonina graminis and A. graminis have been reported to damage Pangola grass.

Sogata fructifera, an aphid, is responsible for transmitting the very destructive stunting virus (Bogdan).

Pest Effects, Nematodes

Pest Effects, Diseases

Stunt virus which first reduces herbage yields and then kills the plants has been reported in Surinam, Guyana, Jamaica, Malaya, Borneo, Taiwan and Fiji. Resistant cultivars are being developed (Bogdan). Rust (Puccinia oahuensis) is a major disease of Pangola grass (FAO).

Pest Effects, Weeds

Pangola grass establishes quickly and suppresses weeds once established (FAO).

Pest Effects, Vertebrates

No information is available in this database on this topic.


Uses in the Pacific Region

Pangola grass is reported to be affected by a stunt virus in Fiji (FAO).

Uses in Hawai`i

The Hawai`i Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide includes Pangola (also known as Digitgrass) (cv. 'Transvala' and 'Pangola'). Their specification describes Pangola (or Digitgrass) as follows

The 'Pangola' cultivar is reported to be root knot nematode resistant.

In Hawai`i, Whitney (1970) reported a decrease in Desmodium intortum grown with Pangola from 50% to below 10% when 410 kg N/ha was applied. This was further reduced to below 1% when cuts were reduced from 10 to 5 weeks (Bogdan).

In Hawai`i a pangola grass/D. intortum mixture did well and gave 10.8-17.0 tons dry matter/ha as compared to 7.5 tons with a pangola/D. canum mixture or 3.8 tons from pangola alone (Bogdan).

Rust (Puccinia oahuensis) is a major disease of Pangola grass (FAO).


References

Ayala, A.J., and Gonzales, R.E. 1967. Pangola grass as a rotation crop for pineapple nematode control. J. Agric. Univ. P. Rice, Vol. 51, Issue 1, pp. 94-96.

Bogdan, A.V. 1977. Tropical Pasture and Fodder Plants. Longman Inc., New York. pp. 111-123.

Evans, Dale O., Joy, Robert J., & Chia, C.L., 1988. Cover Crops for Orchards in Hawaii. Hawaii Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. 16 pp.

FAO Grassland Index Web Site

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Hawai`i Field Office Technical Guide, Section IV, Code 340 "Cover and Green Manure Crop" May 1992. Pacific Islands Area Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG) - East Area

Related Information on Pangolagrass

Information last updated on 9/23/02

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These webpages were originally generated under a grant program from Western SARE entitled "Covering New Ground: Tropical Cover Crops for Improving Soil Quality" EW98-012 (1998-2002).