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Biology


Common Names: Buffelgrass, African foxtail grass, pasto buffel, zacate buffel

Species: Pennisetum ciliare

Life Span: Perennial (multi-year)

Growth Form: Graminoid (grass)

Inflorescence: Dense, cylindrical spikes of purplish bristles 0.75-5 inches long (0.25-0.5 inches wide). The bristles are slender and wavy at the upper (distal) half. There are no awns on the spikelets.

Leaves: Flat, 3-11 inches long (less than 0.25 inches wide), and scabrous (rough to the touch); hairy ligules (tiny whitish/blond hairs visible at the base of the leaf blade where it diverges from the leaf sheath, which is the portion of the leaf that 'wraps' the stem).

Growth Habit: Bunch grass, all stems grow from a knotty base. The tough, clumped plants can grow to over 3.5 feet tall, and mature plants typically grow to 3-4 feet in diameter.buffelgrass inflorescence

Roots: Deep, generally reaching from 6-8 feet into soil (sometimes up to 10 feet)

Dispersal: Seeds and rhizomes. Seeds are readily dispersed via wind, water, animal fur, and on clothing/footwear.

Growth Period: It grows in areas with warm, frost-free winters and a summer rainy season with 6 to 24 inches of rainfall a year. Generally starts growth in late winter, flowers from spring through fall.

Habitat: Road rights-of-way, agricultural areas, disturbed sites, vacant lots, range and grasslands, south-facing mountain slopes, and riparian zones. Occurs in all soil textures but is most common in sandy soils. Primarily a warm-season grass (C-4 grass), buffelgrass growing below 3,000 feet elevation can green-up and flower after almost any rain event.

Buffelgrass does not tolerate extended flooding or subfreezing temperatures for extended periods.