Cynodon dactylon

Scientific Name Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.
Synonyms Chloris cynodon Trin., Digitaria stolonifera Schrad., Milium dactylon (L.) Moench., Paspalum dactylon Salisb.
Common Names English: Bermuda grass, dog's tooth grass; French: Chiendent, chiendent dactyle, herbe des Bermudas; German: Bermudagras, Hundszahngras; Spanish: Grama común, grama de Espana
Description Cynodon dactylon is a highly variable perennial grass with spreading rhizomes and stolons of which various sub-species have been distinguished.


Characteristic Features

Conspicuous ring of white hairs of the ligule, the fringe of hairs on the keel of the lemma, and the gray-green appearance of the foliage.

Young Plant

Primary shoot and four roots develop from the rhizome. Elongation of the internodes on the shoot is followed by the development of up to twenty buds per node. As many as 12 tillers sprout and three dormant rhizome buds develop from these shoot buds.


The erect stems can grow 1-30 cm (rarely to 90 cm) (0.39 - 11.81 inch, rarely to 35.43 inch) tall. The stems are slightly flattened, often tinged purple in color. In dense stands, shoots developing from buds on rhizomes or runners tend to be erect and quite short, up to 25 cm (9.84 inch) high, but develop into prostrate runners under less dense conditions.


The leaf blades are usually dull gray-green, flat, up to 15 cm (5.9 inch) long by 3-5 mm (0.12 - 0.19 inch) wide, tapering to an abrupt point, finely parallel-ribbed on both surfaces, without a conspicuous midrib.
Ligule is very short but with a conspicuous fringe of white hairs.
No auricles.
Sheaths short, roundish, with sparse hairiness.

Propagation Organs


The inflorescence is supported on a culm up to 25 cm (9.84 inch) high and consists of a single whorl of 3-7 narrow racemes, each 3-8 cm (1.18 - 3.14 inch) long.
Spikelets are 2-2.5 mm (0.078 - 0.098 inch) long, in two rows, closely appressed to the rachis.
Glumes are 1-nerved, the lower ones being almost as long as the spikelet, the upper ones half to three quarters as long.
Lemma silky pubescent on the keel.
Palea glabrous.
No awns.

Flowering Period

June - October.


Finger-like spikes containing one seed.


Germination from spring to summer.

Viability of Seeds

2 years.


Spreading mainly by below-ground rhizomes and above-ground stolones. It can also be spread by some extent from seed, but germination was observed to be very low.



Cynodon dactylon is dominant under subtropical conditions. It is a species requiring moderate warmth, tolerant of extremely high temperatures but susceptible to hard or prolonged frost.


C. dactylon occurs under semi-arid and irrigated conditions on a wide range of soil types of varying pH and salinity. Growth is favored by high fertility, but soil type and pH are not critical. Its growth appears to be mostly favored by medium-to-heavy, moist, well-drained soils, but it will also grow on acid and fairly strongly alkaline soils, and the undisturbed rhizome system can survive adverse conditions like flooding and drought.

Agricultural Importance

Bermudagrass is an aggressively competitive weed. The rhizomes and stolones provide a means of spread, each single-node fragment being capable of regrowth. The rhizomes are mainly in the top 10 cm (3.93 inch) of the soil but may penetrate to 35 cm (13.77 inch) depth. They spread horizontally for several metres, with nodes at approximately 10 cm (3.93 inch) intervals, each with 2-3 scale leaves and a single axillary bud which usually remains dormant until the rhizome is disturbed or fragmented. It is a weed in both annual and perennial crops, and in pastures, fallows, and waste areas.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Combination of clipping, tilling, shading and herbicide application for several years should result in complete eradication of this weed.

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