Pennisetum clandestinum

Kikuyu

Family: Poaceae

Origin: Africa

Dense mat of Kikuyu in wetland.
Distinctive bright green grass noticeable between other grasses. Fast growing and can be spread by seed or fragments.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Perennial creeping rhizomatous grass. Stolons are long, occasionally climbing and root frequently. Leaves are soft, yellow-green, drooping, < 40 cm long, hairy and alternate, with a pale green/white hairy sheath. Seeds are borne in minute feathery seedheads.

What you need to know

Although kikuyu is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.

Habitats

Coastal areas, grassland, disturbed forest, open areas, riparian margins, plantations, crop land, pasture, urban areas, roadsides.

Dispersal

Seeds dispersed by wind, water and animals. Vegetative spread from stolons and rhizome fragments. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste and movement of contaminated soil, machinery, clothing and equipment.

Impact on environment

Forms dense mats, smothering native vegetation and suppressing seedling recruitment. Damages infrastructure and increases fire risk.

Control

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: For new planting areas cover with biodegradable permeable mulches such as cardboard and bark mulch or carpets, underlay or wool to subdue kikuyu while allowing plantings to establish.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant. For infestations amongst desirable broadleaf species foliar spray with 150ml haloxyfop-P-methyl per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Dense mat of Kikuyu.
Dense grass from Africa that is drought tolerant. A favourite for coastal lawns but is susceptible to frost.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Kikuyu mat of new and dead leaves.
Creeping grass with dense underground stolons. Will run underground and pop up in other areas.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Bank of kikuyu with flaxes in background.
Smothering grass that competes with native plant roots and leaves. Easily controlled with common herbicides.
Photo credit: Bec Stanley