Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Lovely local Lovegrasses

It's that time of the year when one's thoughts turn to Lovegrass. And what a lovely lot of lovegrasses we have locally - some are important agricultural hay or grazing forages, others key indicators of the condition of natural grassland (veld), while many are just simply breathtaking.

Here are some Lovegrasses, mainly from the Eragrostis genus, found in southern Africa (some exported to other countries), along with their agricultural / ecological significance (from: Guide to Grasses of southern Africa. van Oudtshoorn, 2012, Briza Press).

Weeping, Tough, Sticky, Dew, Woolly, Superb - their very names speak of the wonders, the mysteries, the heart-worthy travails of love.

Eragrostis capensis - Heart-seed Lovegrass
Small to medium palatable grass. Ornamental.
Eragrostis superba- Saw-tooth Lovegrass

Small to medium palatable grass on disturbed soil.

Eragrostis ciliaris - Woolly Lovegrass
Small to medium grass on disturbed soil. Weed in gardens and cultivated lands.
Eragrostis nindensis - Wether Lovegrass
Short, palatable grass on disturbed soil. Resurrects after rain.

Eragrostis racemosa - Narrow Heart Lovegrass
 Small, palatable grass on shallow soil.

Eragrostis plana - Tough Lovegrass

Medium, generally unpalatable grass on disturbed areas and trampled soil. Used for crafts.

Eragrostis viscosa - Stickly Lovegrass
 Small, unpalatable grass, on disturbed soil and roadsides. 
Eragrostis gummiflua - Gum Lovegrass

Medium, unpalatable grass on damp soil. Stickly glands on leaf sheaths.

Eragrostis curvula - Weeping Lovegrass

Medium to tall palatable, productive hay and grazing grass.

Eragrostis inamoena – Tite Lovegrass
 Medium grass in wet areas. Stabilises soil in drainage areas.

Eragrostis bicolor - Vlei Lovegrass
 Small, palatable grass growing in water, moist soils and pans.

Eragrostis obtusa - Dew Lovegrass
 Small grass on disturbed soil. Indicator of past overgrazing.

Eragrostis cilianensis – Stink Lovegrass
Small, unpalatable, odorous grass on disturbed soils and in gardens.

And these are not Eragrostis species but certainly belong here.

Briza maxima - Large Quaking Grass
Small, sparse annual grass in disturbed areas and gardens. Ornamental. 

Briza minor - Little Quaking Grass
 Small annual grass on damp, disturbed soil. 

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