Sub-tropical grasses in a nutshell

Some sub-tropicals are amongst the most salt- and waterlogging-tolerant of the grasses, however they usually need to be planted vegetatively from either segments of stolons (surface stems – runners) or rhizomes (underground stems). The important saltland species in this category are marine couch, saltwater couch and distichlis and they form Saltland Solution 7.

There are only 2 species of sub-tropical grasses that have sufficient salinity and/or waterlogging tolerance to be considered as ‘saltland solutions’. Kikuyu (Pennisetum clandestinum) and Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) are the focus of this ‘saltland solution’ even though local shotgun mixtures often include other sub-tropical species with lower salinity tolerances.

These sub-tropical grasses produce a lower quality forage than the temperate perennial grasses (such as ryegrass, phalaris or fescue) and are only recommended when the temperate species are not suited to the soil or climatic conditions, or if summer growth is a particular requirement. Actual levels of pasture production from these sub-tropical grasses have rarely been measured in saline situations.

Like the temperate perennial grasses, the important role for sub-tropical grasses will be around the margins of saline scalds where the salinity and waterlogging are least severe. 

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