Description: Tufted, rhizomatous or stoloniferous perennials, rarely annuals.
Leaves with ligule membranous, sometimes with hairs from the back, sometimes asymmetric; blade rolled in bud, flat.
Inflorescence a raceme or a pair of racemes or several spike-like racemes on a common axis, the racemes axes narrow or winged.
Spikelets solitary or paired, subsessile, plano-convex or flattened, in 2–4 rows on one side of the rachis, back of fertile lemma adaxial, falling entire at maturity; florets 2, upper bisexual, lower sterile. Glumes usually 1, lower usually absent, sometimes present as a minute scale; the upper as long as the spikelet, soft, 3–5-nerved. Lemmas dissimilar, the lower similar to the upper glume, flat or concave, 2–4-nerved; the upper lemma stiff to hardened, obtuse, faintly nerved, the margins firm, inrolled; palea subequal to its lemma and similar in texture, tightly embraced by the margins of the lemma.
Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 330 species, mostly New World. Australia: c. 21 species (5 species native, c. 16 species naturalized), all States.
Most species were introduced as forage grasses, many have become widely naturalised, and some have become weeds.
From a Greek name for a type of millet.
Text by S. W. L. Jacobs, Whalley, R.D.B. & Wheeler, D.J.B.
Taxon concept: Grasses of New South Wales, Fourth Edition (2008).
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Inflorescence a pair of racemes at the top of the culm (rarely another raceme below); spikelets not in pairs, in 2 rows on the axis, plants stoloniferous or rhizomatous||2|
|Inflorescence of 1–many racemes on a primary axis but not in pairs; spikelets usually in pairs and in 2–4 rows; plants usually tufted||5|
|2||Spikelets 1.5–1.7 mm long, often with a fringe of hairs around the margins; racemes slender, usually 8–12 cm long||Paspalum conjugatum|
|Spikelets 2.5–4.5 cm long, without a fringe of silky hairs; racemes mostly 1.5–7 cm long, rather stiff|
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|3||Glumes with very short hairs; spikelets ovate; usually growing near fresh water||Paspalum distichum|
|Glumes glabrous; spikelets narrow-ovate to elliptic; usually growing on dry land or near salt or brackish water|
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|4||Plants rhizomatous or tufted; spikelets ovate to obovate, smooth and shiny; naturalized pasture species growing on dry land||Paspalum notatum|
|Plants stoloniferous, not rhizomatous; spikelets ovate to lanceolate, not shiny; grows near salt or brackish water|
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|5||Leaf blade margins with tubercle-based cilia; spikelets glabrous, c. 2 mm long, orbicular, paired or 1 of each pair aborted, mostly in 2 irregular rows even when paired||Paspalum ciliatifolium|
|Leaf blade margins usually without tubercle-based cilia; spikelets various but without the combination of characters above|
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|6||Spikelets usually glabrous, borne singly, usually in 2 rows along the ribbon-like raceme-axis; axis 1–2.5 mm wide||7|
|Spikelets usually hairy, borne in 4 regular or irregular rows along the racemes; axis 0.5–1.2 mm wide, often 3-angled|
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|7||Nodes hairy; usually a few sparse appressed hairs near the glume margins||Paspalum mandiocanum|
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|8||Strongly rhizomatous perennial with erect racemes||Paspalum scrobiculatum|
|Annual or perennial with racemes that tend to diverge from the axis at maturity|
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|9||Spikelets loosely and sparsely pilose over the back, no concentration of hairs around the margins; upper lemma dark-coloured, purple to brown, shining, plumply plano-convex; leaves 3 mm wide or less||Paspalum nicorae|
|Spikelets variously hairy but with usually at least some hairs concentrated towards the margins, these sometimes very conspicuous|
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|10||Spikelets 1.25–1.5 mm long; rhizomes covered with hairy cataphylls or their remains||Paspalum paniculatum|
|Spikelets more than 1.7 mm long; hairy cataphylls absent (though leaf sheaths sometimes hairy); tufted perennials with or without stolons|
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|11||Spikelets glabrous or puberulous; plants producing stolons; leaves to 3 cm wide||Paspalum mandiocanum|
|Spikelets pilose or pubescent or fringed with long silky hairs; stolons absent; leaves 0.3–2 cm wide|
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|12||Spikelets pilose or pubescent but not fringed with long silky hairs; spikelets 2–2.6 mm long and arranged in 4 rather irregular rows on the 3-sided raceme axis||13|
|Spikelets pubescent and fringed with long silky hairs; spikelets 2–4 mm long and arranged in 4 regular rows on the flattened raceme axis|
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|13||Racemes usually more than 15, each less than 8 cm long, stiff, with the apical racemes much reduced (less than 25% the length of lower racemes); leaf blades often inrolled, less than 1 cm wide when unrolled||Paspalum quadrifarium|
|Racemes usually less than 12, to 10 cm long, more or less flexuous, all more or less equal (the upper more than 50% the length of the lower); leaf blades usually flat, to 2 cm wide|
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|14||Spikelets 3–4 mm long; inflorescence usually with 3–7(–11) racemes; leaves arising from a 'crown'; culms 0.4–1.75 m high||Paspalum dilatatum|
|Spikelets 2–2.6 mm long; inflorescence usually with 12–20 racemes; plants usually high coarse clumps with culms 0.75–2.5 m high|
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