African lovegrass

Native to southern Africa, African lovegrass is a green, densely tufted grass. It was probably first introduced to Australia as a contaminant of pasture seed. African lovegrass cultivars have also been used as soil stabilisers to control erosion.

African lovegrass has been planted in different locations throughout South East Queensland, and has naturalised in all Australian states. African lovegrass competes with native and pasture species. Large stands can pose a fire hazard.

African lovegrass is not a prohibited or restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Eragrostis curvula

Other names

Bergsoetgras, Boer lovegrass, fyngras, weeping lovegrass

Description

  • Densely tufted perennial species up to 1.2m tall.
  • Generally erect but stems may bend at lower nodes, giving plant weeping appearance.
  • Leaves are hairless.
  • Leaf blades are narrow, bright green to blue-green, 25-35cm long, 3mm wide, tough to break, with distinct parallel veins.
  • Flower head is compact when young, then spreads.
  • Seed heads can be up to 30cm long.
  • Seeds have overlapping herringbone feature.
  • Basal sheaths surrounding crown at ground level have fine silky hairs.

Habitat

  • Grows in acidic, red and especially sandy soils.
  • Found along roadsides, railway lines and other neglected areas, often spreading to adjacent pastures.
  • May be spreading into more fertile areas of southern Queensland and invading pastures, lucerne and summer cropping areas.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Found throughout Burnett, Darling Downs and Granite Belt regions of Queensland.
  • Also recorded in pastoral districts of Wide Bay, Maranoa, Port Curtis, Moreton and Warrego.

Life cycle

  • Seeds germinate in autumn or spring.
  • Reproduces by thousands of seeds at a time.
  • Mature seeds appear from January-March.
  • Grows during summer, but can seed any time of the year.
  • Flowering begins in early summer.

Affected animals

  • Livestock

Impacts

Environmental

  • Competes with native species during regeneration after fire.

Economic

  • Competes with other pasture species.
  • Becomes unpalatable to stock as it ages.
  • May contain low (3%) levels of protein, causing stock that graze on it to do poorly.

Social

  • Forms dense monocultures up to 1.2m high, creating large fuel loads and posing fire hazard.

How it is spread

  • Spread by slashing of roadsides.
  • Seed is easily transported by machinery and motor vehicles.
  • Cattle can excrete viable seed up to 10 days after consumption.
  • Also spread on fur and hooves of animals, and in soil and grain.

Prevention

Prevention is the best form of control. Treat infestations when they are small - do not allow them to establish.

Find out how farmers can prevent weed spread.

Find out how gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts can prevent weed spread.

Control

  • Before using any control method, make sure to correctly identify African lovegrass to distinguish it from the many native Eragrostis species.
  • African lovegrass is not easy to control and requires an integrated approach to overall pasture management.

Physical control

  • Graze heavily while young and succulent when African lovegrass is most palatable and nutritious to stock. (Protein content can be as high as 20% when lovegrass is short. Older growth has low palatability and is usually avoided by animals.)
  • Maintain healthy pasture to reduce chances of lovegrass infestation.
  • Keep bare patches of ground to minimum, as lovegrass will quickly establish in these areas.
  • Prevent cattle from grazing on African lovegrass while it is in seed, or quarantine stock before moving to clean paddocks.
  • Consider re-sowing desirable pasture species in small areas that are heavily infested.

Mechanical control

Scattered plants
  • Chip out plants before they flower. If plants are in seed, cut and bag stems before chipping out commences.
  • When chipping out, remove tussock crowns to prevent regrowth.
  • For best results, over-sow and fertilise area after chipping out.
Larger infestations:
  • Be aware that any physical disturbance of African lovegrass can promote spread and reinfestation.
  • Therefore, if slashing or ploughing, take care, use clean equipment, and clean equipment after use.

Herbicide control

  • Use foliar application to spray when plant is green and actively growing.
  • Apply residual herbicides from July-December to help stop seed set the following summer.

See the African lovegrass fact sheet (PDF, 872KB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents. Not currently or likely to be target for biological control.

Legal requirements

  • African lovegrass 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.

More information

Contact us

Call your local government office, or Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Last updated
01 July 2016