Dear readers, this time we continue with the description of weed species whose habitat is tropical ecosystems, as is the case of the species Paspalum virgatum which is commonly known in my country Venezuela as cabezona, there is much controversy whether to classify it as a weed or natural grass, due to low nutritional yields and some physical characteristics when it reaches maturity. We will talk about all of this as we advance in the technical description.
- ORIGIN OF THE NAME: Paspalum: from the Greek "paspalos": canaryseed, grain, this name derived from "pas": all and "pale": flour, alluding to the floury grains, virgatum: from the Latin "virgatus": branched, due to the large number of secondary stems produced by this plant.
- ECO-BIOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION: Some researchers indicate that the plant is native to the American continent, probably from the region between southern Brazil and northeastern Argentina, is currently distributed in the rest of South America and Central America, a fact that can be evidenced because this plant proliferates in forage surfaces in tropical areas of the southern part of Lake Maracaibo Venezuela, adapts well to clay loam soils.
It is a monocotyledonous plant, herbaceous, erect, 1.0 to 2.0 m high, it propagates by seeds and vegetatively by means of vines and vegetative parts, it can establish very well in areas where rainfall is high.
- MORPHOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION: Root presents superficial fibrous roots, forming a sort of hair, its cylindrical stem, herbaceous (easy to cut), macolla much towards the base and is glabrous (without hairiness). Leaves lanceolate (lance-shaped, serrated, erect, hairy and sharp at the margins when ripe, are composed of sheath and membranous ligule of 1 to 2 mm which is another characteristic of the grasses Flowers inflorescence is panicle-shaped, dark brown, 10 to 40 cm long, and the spikelets are pubescent. Fruit is an ovate caryopsis, softly hairy, greenish to gray-brown seed.
- Damage caused and control: Paspalum virgatum is a grass family plant that when it is in its vegetative phenological stage, that is, before producing seeds, presents characteristics that could be considered acceptable in terms of its nutritional level and foliage to be consumed by bovine animals. As its phenological stage advances to reproductive with the presence of the inflorescence, its nutritional level decreases and the leaves begin to become rough when more mature and the animals do not consume it.
For the above mentioned, some producers control it manually, removing the plants with a shovel and placing a bag in the inflorescence to prevent the seeds from spreading at the time of extraction and transfer.
Finally, dear readers, we consider that it is a naturalized pasture that, although it does not express high potentialities, good results can be obtained with adequate management. Some producers use it for feeding beef cattle and have obtained acceptable results.
- Mejía, J. (2009). Manual of banana weeds. Syngenta.
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