Digitaria brownii

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Distribution

Cotton Panic grass grows across much of Australia being found both in the coastal and inland areas, in the tropics and in the warmer temperate areas. It occurs in all mainland States of Australia, as well as in India.

Description

A long-lived perennial that often forms complete grass coverage by its slowly spreading habit. It is a warm season grass and has its period of most rapid growth in the warmer months of the year and has winter dormancy in inland locations. It spreads by short rhizomes and by seed, the seed being very light and feathery. It produces a large bulk of green fodder in the warmer months if rainfall occurs and is so highly palatable in its green stages that it has been eaten out of many areas. Older leaves dry out, become slightly curled and are of low fodder value. It is easily recognised when in flower as the spikelets are densely covered in long, silky and silvery hairs on slightly weeping seedheads.

Habitat/Soil

It is very widespread and occurs in a wide range of habitats and soils, but is most common on sandy loam soils and more fertile soils in the interior. It is also commonly found on the dry rocky slopes of the inland and on soils from sand through loam to clay.

Tolerances

  • High drought tolerance
  • Low frost tolerance
  • Not tolerant of set stocking

Sowing

Seed should be sown into a weed-free seedbed in early spring, or later with irrigation or summer rainfall. The seed is very light and fluffy and is difficult to sow if it is not pelletised. Seed should not be sown deeper than 5 mm on heavier soils.

Uses

Cotton Panic grass is a very valuable fodder which has been highly rated for this purpose by early graziers and botanists. It has reportedly been made into hay following a spring season rest period.

It can also be used for a visual effect with the feathery seedheads a valuable feature, although it may become too bulky unless well managed as the plants can reach up to 1 metre high.