Common kikuyu

Pennisetum clandestinum

Scientific name

Pennisetum clandestinum

Common name


Other names (PBR name, trademark, breeder code)



A vigorous medium to coarse textured grass for the subtropics, particularly in highland areas or along the coast where the effect of high summer temperatures is moderated. For best results, it requires good soil fertility and moisture, but at the same time shows good drought tolerance because of its deeply rooted rhizomes. Older or common varieties of kikuyu usually tolerates low to moderate levels of wear. Its shade tolerance, however, is poor. Kikuyu is renowned for its strong rhizomes, which invade adjacent areas such as garden beds. Seeded cultivars only compound this problem, and will result in kikuyu spreading well beyond the areas where it is required. Male-sterile (non-seeding) cultivars are now available as specialist lines, and these avoid the problem of invasive seedlings (Source: former DAF Technical note).

Other comments

Following guidelines by McAuliffe and Roche (2009) of >15 % wear (bare ground) is considered unfit for play; if kikuyu was planted on a community sportsfield, the field could be closed between 64-100 % of the season; whereas blue couch could see the venue shut between 2-90 %; and green couch could see between 0-65 % of field closures. However, varietal difference was also vast, particularly within the green couch species of turf. Wear variation between 2 % and 90 % was observed of the green couches which are the primary selection of turf for planting on a sportsfield within sub-tropical and tropical environments (Roche et al., 2012). The latter studies were conducted in QLD as part of a 4 year four-year Horticulture Australia (HAL) project is the first scientific study within Australia to assess simulated and actual wear studies of warm-season turfgrasses suitable for sportfield use. The study has allowed researchers and turf professionals to compare traffic (wear and compaction) tolerance and turf management requirements (e.g. mowing) of the current dominant varieties.

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Available in Sod/turf and seed
Price range $7.00 - $9.00
Use Sports fields and Racetracks and Parks and Residential
Suitable climate classification Subtropical and Tropical and Temperate
Preferred mowing height 30mm - 50mm
Shade tolerance Poor
Wear tolerance Moderate
Cold tolerance Good
Heat tolerance Good
Salinity tolerance Poor
Water requirement Moderate
Fertiliser requirement Moderate
Mowing frequency Moderate
Thatch production Moderate
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