Para grass

Native to tropical Africa, para grass is a creeping, perennial grass that can grow in both semi-aquatic situations and on deep soils in non-swampy areas. It was introduced to Queensland around 1880 to reduce soil erosion along the banks of waterways.

Para grass has been used in tropical locations as a fodder species, especially as a ponded pasture in beef production. In Queensland, para grass is now a common weed, especially in many cane-growing areas. It is an aggressive invader and can displace native plants.

Para grass is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Urochloa mutica

Other names

  • Buffalo grass, Dutch grass, giant couch, Bancroft grass, California grass, African wonder grass

Description

  • Perennial grass with creeping, prostrate growth habit, up to 1m tall.
  • Stems are hollow, robust, erect towards ends, sprout new roots wherever nodes touch ground.
  • Leaf blades are hairy, dark green, usually up to 15cm long and less than 1cm wide, taper to long, fine point.
  • Flower heads are up to 18cm long, made up of several spikes each about 5cm long.
  • Seeds cluster thickly along each spike.

Habitat

  • Grows aggressively in low-lying ungrazed areas and in sugar cane.
  • Often found in wet situations, especially drains, but also grows in deep soils in non-swampy areas.

Distribution

  • Found throughout much of coastal and subcoastal Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Flowers mostly during summer and autumn.

Impacts

Environmental

  • Aggressively invades cane-growing areas and areas of disturbed remnant vegetation on suitable soils.
  • Significantly displaces native plants.
  • Poses potential threat to natural wetland ecosystems.

How it is spread

  • Seeds spread by floodwater and animals.

Control

Physical control

  • Grazing para grass prevents it dominating other vegetation.

Herbicide control

  • Herbicides are effective.

See the Para grass fact sheet (PDF, 200KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • Para grass is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information