Durban grass

Dactyloctenium australe

Scientific name

Dactyloctenium australe

Common name

Sweet smothergrass

Other names (PBR name, trademark, breeder code)

Sweet smothergrass; sweet smother grass; Durbangrass; Durban grass.


Sweet smothergrass also known as Durban grass is a coarse-textured perennial grass species with above-ground runners (stolons) which may extend for up to a metre. Leaves are 2.5-4.5 mm wide, blade length 50-70 mm in a lawn situation, mid-dark green, shiny, slightly hairy on the margins and slightly crinkled in appearance. The plants stolons produce tufted growths every 6-10 cm, which root at the nodes (DAF, no date). Inflorescence digitate, with spicate branches. Rhachis deciduous from axis; Fertile spikelets many flowered, with at least 2 fertile florets (2–6), comprising 2–6 fertile floret(s), with diminished florets at the apex, elliptic or oblong or ovate, laterally compressed, 4–5.5 mm long (Simon, 2010). Inflorescence radial arms are about 15 cm above the canopy if left unmown. Sweet smothergrass does produce some viable seed, but not in commercial quantity (Description source: Former Redlands DPI Technical Notes (DAF)). If left unmown, stems can grow 30cm to 80cm tall. 

Simon, 2010. Dactyloctenium australe, (accessed 15 Apr 2017) - view the latter web page to see excellent close up images.

Other comments

Relatively low maintenance turfgrass. Is best suited for (high) shaded areas with NO wear. The grass also handles full sun. The variety looks good following high fertility and mowing approx. 50 mm. The variety is more suited for domestic lawns, parks and garden areas.

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Available in Sod/turf
Price range N/A
Use Residential and Parks and Other
Suitable climate classification Subtropical and Tropical
Preferred mowing height 35mm - 50mm
Shade tolerance Good
Wear tolerance Poor
Cold tolerance Moderate
Heat tolerance Good
Salinity tolerance Poor
Water requirement Moderate
Fertiliser requirement High
Mowing frequency Moderate
Thatch production Low
Website N/A
Facebook N/A
References Read more  
  • Firth, D (2004). Sweet smothergrass – a perennial groundcover for subtropical orchards. Agnote DPI-382, 3rd edn., NSW Department of Primary Industries. 
  • Quinlan, K., Wilkie, J. & O'Hare, P. (2008). Establishing and managing smotheregrass on macadamia orchard floors, NSW Department of Primary Industries Management Guide, pp. 13. 
  • Aldous, D.E and Loch, D.S. (2013). A review of the biology, adaptation and management of Dactyloctenium australae Stued. (durbangrass) as a turfgrass with particular reference to Australia.

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