This section is from the book "A Manual Of Weeds", by Ada E. Georgia. Also available from Amazon: A Manual Of Weeds.
Introduced. Perennial. Propagates by stolons, or runners which put forth roots at the joints.
Rarely by seeds. Time of bloom: July to August. Seed-time: August to September. But no seed is produced in the United States except in the most southern parts. Range: Southern part of the United States, north as far as Maryland, and westward to the
Pacific Coast. Habitat: Fields, meadows, and waste places.
This is a tropical grass, subject to winterkilling north of the altitude of Virginia. It prefers warm, sandy soil, and droughts that kill other grasses harm it not at all. Only in cultivated ground is it a weed, but there its creeping habit of growth makes it a very bad one, extremely hard to destroy, particularly in cotton fields and other hoed crops. But it is the most valuable of southern grasses for lawns, meadows, and pastures, and on the levees, road embankments, and stream sides it is the best thing possible to bind and hold the soil in place. For such purpose it is usually started by passing a quantity of the plants through a feed cutter and sowing the pieces, every joint of which will probably strike root and make a new plant. (Fig. 23.)
Fig. 22.- Wild Oat-grass (Dantho-nia spicata). X1/3.
It is small and low, the stems four inches to a foot tall, slender, slightly flattened, very much branched, becoming stiff and wiry as they mature. Leaves smooth, flat, stiff, light green, only two to four inches in length but very numerous. Sheaths smooth, the ligule a ring of white hairs. The sheaths overlap and are crowded at the base of the stalks and along the stolons. When the flowering stalks do appear, the heads are divided into four or five "fingers" which are shorter and thicker than those of the real finger, or crab, grass (Digitaria).
The plant is a lover of heat and sunlight and will not thrive in the shade. Therefore, when a meadow or a pasture is wanted for a different crop, it can be smothered out by a thick growth of taller plants, such as cow-peas, sorghum, or millet, which will at the same time yield a profitable crop of hay. In latitude where a "cold snap" in winter is sufficiently biting, the roots may be killed by exposing them to freeze, using a good, sharp, turning plow and making the furrow as shallow as possible, for the roots are very near the surface. The hard, wiry, interlacing stems of this grass make tilled crops infested with it very difficult of cultivation, requiring much hand labor with the hoe. But in most localities it leaves no seed to infest the soil, and one or two seasons of careful work should conquer it.
Fig. 23. - Bermuda Grass (Cynodon Dacty-lon). X1/2.