Broadleaf Carpet Grass
Axonopus compressus

Summary


Common Name

Its common name is broadleaf carpet grass or kulape (Tagalog) (Manidool).

Scientific Name

The scientific name is Axonopus compressus (Swartz) P. Beauv. (Manidool).

Cultivars

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Seed Description

Seeds are yellow-brown, elliptical, 1.25 mm long (Manidool).

Seedling Description

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Mature Plant Description

Broadleaf carpet grass is a short perennial, stoloniferous, dense mat-like spreading grass. Its leaves are 4-15 cm (11/2 - 6 in.) long, and 4-10 mm (1/6-3/8 in.) wide, broadly linear or lanceolate. It seldom reaches a height greater than 15 cm (6 in.) (FAO). There are usually two to four slender, dense spikes, 3-10 cm (1-4 in.) long. Spikelets are 2.2-2.8 mm long. The stems are slender, compressed, one to three noded (Bogdan). It is similar to A. affinis in most of its botanical characters but is more robust and stoloniferous (FAO).

NOTE: A. compresses (broadleaf carpet grass) and A. affinis (narrowleaf carpet grass) cannot be easily distinguished from one another by their general appearance because the leaf width can vary and hybridization occurs (Bogdan).

Temperature

Found in the tropics and subtropics (FAO).

Origin and Geographic Distribution

Broadleaf carpet grass occurs naturally in Mexico, Central America, tropical South America and the West Indies. It has been introduced into the southern eastern USA, Africa, southeastern Asia, the Philippines, Australia and the Pacific Islands. It has "naturalized" in many of these countries (Bogdan).

Ecology

Its natural habitat is subhumid to humid woodland and savannah, flourishing in moist soils (FAO).

Water

Broadleaf carpet grass requires a minimum rainfall of 775 mm (about 30 in.) (FAO). It cannot withstand waterlogging or flooding (Bogdan).

Nutrients

Broadleaf carpet grass often outcompetes other grasses on infertile soils (Bogdan). It does respond to fertilizer applications (Manidool).

Soil pH

Broadleaf carpet grass tolerates soil pH range 4.0 - 7.0 (NRCS).

Soil Type

Broadleaf carpet grass grows on a range of soil types, particularly sandy soils (Manidool) and fertile sandy loams (Bogdan). It is commonly found on sandy soils where it outcompetes other grasses as fertility declines (Bogdan).

Shade Tolerance

Broadleaf carpet grass is moderately to very shade tolerant but also grows well in full sunlight (Manidool).

Salinity Tolerance

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Herbicide Sensitivity

Manidool reports that broadleaf carpet grass is controlled as a weed by spraying with 1.1 kg MSMA + 0.6 kg sodium chlorate in 273 liters water.

Life Cycle

Young plants start growth in a circular patch. With little competition, the patch may reach a size of up to 1 meter in diameter in one season. It crowds out weeds and grasses and forms a dense mat-like cover. It flowers all year round, although little seed is produced in some environments (Manidool).

Seeding Rate

Seeding Depth

Sow on the surface and roll after planting (FAO).

Seeding Method

Sow on the surface and roll after planting. It can be surface sown through a drill (FAO).

Seeding Dates

Year round in Hawai`i.

Inoculation

Not applicable. It is reported to be able to fix atmospheric N through associated microorganisms (Manidool).

Seed Cost

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Seed Availability

Not readily 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

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Seed Storage

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Growth Habit

Broadleaf carpet grass is a short spreading grass which generally reaches a height of about 15 cm, forming a dense mat over the ground surface (FAO).

Maximum Height

Broadleaf carpet grass grows to a maximum height of about 20-50 cm (8-20 in.) (Manidool).

Root System

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Establishment

Broadleaf carpet grass is usually vegetatively propagated by planting stolons (Manidool). Planting sprigs 2 ft by 2 ft or closer is recommended by Evans in Hawai`i. NRCS recommends a planting rate or 40-80 bu/ac (sprigs or stolons, maximum 3x3 ft. spacing).

Maintenance

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Mowing

When used as a lawn grass, it should be mown frequently (Manidool).

Incorporation

Not applicable. Not generally used as a green manure.

Harvesting

Not applicable. Not generally harvested.

Equipment

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Uses

Mixtures

Broadleaf carpet grass will grow in association with white clover (Trifolium repens) and Desmodium triflorum. It will gradually invade Cynodon dactylon in lawns (FAO). In Hawai`i it is reported to combine well with trefoil, Desmodium spp. and white clover (Evans).

Biomass

No information is available in this database on this topic.

N Contribution

Nitrogen concentrations of A. compressus range between 1-2% (Manidool). CSIRO workers have shown that it has an active nitrogenase system fixing 13 kg N/ha/day over a 12 week summer growing period (FAO).

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

Broadleaf carpet grass is used for grazing in plantation crops (particularly coconuts) (Manidool). The quality of herbage is considered to be comparatively low and declines with plant age (Bogdan). Frequent grazing is preferred to maintain palatability and quality. It is usually grazed by tethered or freely grazing animals and rarely used in a cut-and-carry system. With mixed fertilizer applications rates of 300 kg/ha, it has yielded up to 5 t/ha of DM. In Brazil, Zebu steers grazing over 672 days achieved an average daily gain of 0.18-kg (Manidool).

Pest Effects, Insects

No information is available in this database on this topic.

Pest Effects, Nematodes

Burrowing, reniform, and root knot susceptible (personal communication, Robert Joy).

Pest Effects, Diseases

Alternate host of Rhizoctonia solani (Manidool).

Pest Effects, Weeds

Excellent for weed suppression but can become a troublesome weed itself. It often invades run-down old sown unfertilized pastures (Bogdan).

Pest Effects, Vertebrates

No information is available in this database on this topic.


Uses in the Pacific Region

Uses in Hawai`i

The Hawai`i Natural Resources Conservation Service Technical Guide broadleaf carpet grass. Their specification describes broadleaf carpet grass as follows:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service Plant Materials Center has been working with an accession (9037941) for advanced testing for use as a ground cover in shady conditions, primarily orchard ground cover and more specifically for macadamia nut orchards. It will grow in full sun and should have applications for waterways, critical area plantings and other erosion prone areas. It makes a very acceptable turf. (R. Joy)

Several farmers in the Kona region report using broadleaf carpet grass with white clover under coffee. There are concerns (but no reports) about the carpet grass and coffee both being susceptible to root knot nematode.

Evans reports carpet grass being used successfully in Kona by coffee growers, with the more wear-resistant tropic lalo (Paspalum hieronymii) being used for access roads and equipment-bearing areas.

Dr. Joe DeFrank, UH Manoa, has a cover crop demonstration site using broadleaf carpet grass as a living mulch in papaya trials.


References

Bogdan, A.V. 1977. Tropical Pasture and Fodder Plants. Longman Inc., New York. Pp.45-47.

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 Stated. 16 pp.

FAO Grassland Index Web Site

Manidool, C. 1992. Axonopus compressus (Swartz) P. Beauv. In: 't Mannetje, L. & Jones, R.M. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 4. Forages. Pudoc-DLO, Wageningen, the Netherlands. pp. 53-54.

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

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).