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Genus Cynodon Family Poaceae
Common Name: Giant Star Grass

Description: Stoloniferous and rhizomatous perennials with short, erect flowering shoots produced at the nodes; culms smooth, slender, erect or bent at the base.

Leaves with sheath smooth, short, rounded; ligule membranous, often ciliate, sometimes with longer hair tufts at each end; blade folded or rolled in the bud, spreading, flat, scabrid on the edges, glabrous to loosely short-haired.

Inflorescence a digitate arrangement of 2–6 narrow spikes.

Spikelets sessile, overlapping in 2 rows on the underside of the rachis, laterally compressed, disarticulating above the glumes; with 1 bisexual floret, with or without an extended rachilla and sometimes with a reduced floret. Glumes keeled, acute, subequal, falling after the floret is shed, the upper 1–3-nerved, the lower 1-nerved. Lemmas firm, awnless, with a ciliate keel, 3-nerved. Palea about equal to the lemma, 2-keeled.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 8 species, tropical & warm-temp. regions. Australia: 3 species (2 species naturalized), all States.

C. dactylon is a valuable turf grass and of some use as a pasture species, though occasionally causing cyanide poisoning, and, because of its vigour, can also be a weed. Key from Wheeler et al. (1990).

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & S. M. Hastings
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Leaves with blade bristle-like, usually less than 1 mm wide; spikes 1–3, usually ± 1.5 cm longCynodon transvaalensis
Leaves with blade flat or folded, usually more than 1 mm wide; spikes mostly 3 or more, usually more than 1.5 cm long2
2Ligule a membranous rim with short hairs; spikes usually dark-coloured; rachilla produced beyond the floret; both stolons and rhizomes presentCynodon dactylon
Ligule a membranous rim (with hair tufts at the orifice only); spikes usually pale green; rachilla not produced beyond the floret; rhizomes usually absent
                       Back to 1
Cynodon incompletus

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