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CYNODON dactylon

Image of Cynodon dactylon

Forest & Kim Starr

Family

Poaceae

Botanical Name

CYNODON dactylon

Plant Common Name

Bermuda Grass

General Description

Bermuda grass is a fine textured plant native to southern Asia, most likely India. However it is naturalized throughout the warm, humid, subtropical and tropical areas of the world. The small, lance-shaped leaves are usually dark green to gray green and emerge from a loose sheath folded maturing to a flat form. Bermuda grass spreads by scaly rhizomes (underground stems) and flattened stolons (above ground lateral stems). Both the rhizomes and stolons are heavily branched, root at the nodes and produce dense stands of upright plantlets. The flowers are produces on fine stalks in crow’s-foot flower head and are followed by many tan seeds. Common Bermuda grass, forage types and escaped plants produce many viable seeds, hybrid Bermuda grass and turf type cultivars rarely produce seed. The most common Bermuda grasses used on lawns and sports turf are hybrids and cultivars of the hybrids.

Bermuda grass is planted as forage for livestock, used for erosion control, provides food for wildlife and is an important ornamental and recreational turf used on lawns and sports turf fields. However, Bermuda grass is also considered a weed in many agricultural areas across the tropics. It is on the United States list of noxious weeds and is considered invasive by some states. For more information about the invasive nature of Bermuda grass see http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CYDA .

Bermuda grass is a tough grass. It is very tolerant of soil types, but prefers deep, moist soils. Full sun is required and Bermuda is very salt and pH tolerant. It is not tolerant to prolonged freezing temperature and goes dormant with just a bit of cold. Bermuda is most useful in warm, temperate regions. Common Bermuda is used as turf for large open areas such as parks. It is drought tolerant and fairly easy to maintain. Bermuda hybrids and cultivars tend to be high maintenance grasses. Mowing height is determined by use and cultivar and can range from a few fractions of an inch to two inches in height. Reel mowers are the preferred tool for Bermuda grass management. It is very susceptible to many insects, nematodes and plant diseases. Thatch formation is also common for Bermuda; thatch is a layer of dead leaves, stolons and debris that accumulates between the active turf and soil and should be removed periodically. Though drought tolerant, high use Bermuda grass may require frequent applications of water. Fertilizer needs are high and should be applied as needed according to a soil test or local research. A very wear tolerant grass, Bermuda forms beautiful turf and is commonly used on golf courses and playing fields.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    11 - 6

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    6 - 11

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Grass

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    1"-16" / 2.5cm - 40.6cm

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Southern Asia, India

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Pollution, Salt, Soil Compaction

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Tan, Brown, Black

  • Fruit Color

    Brown, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Dark Green, Tan

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Lawns and Turf

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes