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20 November 2019

Axonopus compressus (carpet grass)

Datasheet Types: Pest, Natural enemy, Invasive species, Host plant


This datasheet on Axonopus compressus covers Identity, Overview, Distribution, Hosts/Species Affected, Diagnosis, Biology & Ecology, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Further Information.


Preferred Scientific Name
Axonopus compressus (Swartz) P. Beauv (1812)
Preferred Common Name
carpet grass
Other Scientific Names
Agrotis compressus (Sw.) Poir. (1810)
Anastrophus compressus Schlechtendal ex Doell (1877)
Anastrophus platycaulis Schlecht. ex Jacks. (1893)
Axonopus brevipedunculatus Gledhill (1966)
Axonopus kesantuensis Vanderyst (1925)
Digitaria domingensis Desv. ex Kunth (1833)
Digitaria platicaulis Desv. (1833)
Echinichloa compressa (SW.) Roberty (1955)
Helopus barbatus Trin. (1821) Doell (1877)
Milium compressum Swartz (1788)
Panicum platicaulon (Poir.) O. Ktze. (1898)
Panicum raunkiaerii Mez (1917)
Paspalum compressum (Sw.) Raspail (1825)
Paspalum depressum Steud.
Paspalum filostachyum A. Rich. ex. Steud.
Paspalum guadeloupense Steud. (1854)
Paspalum kisantuense Vanderyst (1918)
Paspalum laticulmum Spreng. (1825)
Paspalum platicaulon Poiret (1804)
Paspalum tristachyon Lamk, (1791)
International Common Names
broadleaf carpet grass
flat grass
savanna grass
tropical carpet grass
cardo santo
herbe gazon
Local Common Names
pasto chato
pasto jesuita
zucate amargo
shial kata
Teppichrasengras, Breitblättriges
djoekoet pahit
djukut pait
roempoet pait
Rumput pahit
Rumput parit
Sri Lanka
sappu pul
Ya baimaln
EPPO code
AXOCO (Axonopus compressus)


Foliage and inforescence of A. compressus in Bhutan.
Foliage and inforescence of A. compressus in Bhutan.
©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
a. ligule, ventral side; b. part of raceme; c1. spikelet, abaxial side, showing G2; c2. ditto, adaxial side, showing L1; d. upper glume (G2), dorsal view (opened); e. lower lemma (L1), dorsal view (opened); f. upper floret; g. upper lemma (L2), ventral view (slightly opened); h. upper palea (P2), ventral view; i. caryopsis, two views.
A. compressus - line drawing
a. ligule, ventral side; b. part of raceme; c1. spikelet, abaxial side, showing G2; c2. ditto, adaxial side, showing L1; d. upper glume (G2), dorsal view (opened); e. lower lemma (L1), dorsal view (opened); f. upper floret; g. upper lemma (L2), ventral view (slightly opened); h. upper palea (P2), ventral view; i. caryopsis, two views.
Inflorescences a slender stalk bearing two slender, 1-sided spikes usually 5-10 cm long, usually with a third inserted 1-2 cm below.
Inflorescence - line drawing
Inflorescences a slender stalk bearing two slender, 1-sided spikes usually 5-10 cm long, usually with a third inserted 1-2 cm below.
Spikelets green, elliptical, pointed, flattened, shortly-stalked, 2-3.5 mm x 1-1.25 mm.
Spikelets - line drawing
Spikelets green, elliptical, pointed, flattened, shortly-stalked, 2-3.5 mm x 1-1.25 mm.
Leaf sheath fine, hairy along the outer margin; nodes densely pubescent; ligule very short, fringed with short hairs; leaf blade is lanceolate, flat.
Leaf and ligule - line drawing
Leaf sheath fine, hairy along the outer margin; nodes densely pubescent; ligule very short, fringed with short hairs; leaf blade is lanceolate, flat.

Taxonomic Tree

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Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Axonopus is a genus of about 100 species, of which very few are widespread weeds. Although many other names have been applied to it in the past, the most widespread weedy species is now always known as A. compressus. There can be some confusion between this and the related lawn grass species A. affinis A. Chase (see Similarities to other Species).


A. compressus has a creeping stem which roots at the nodes. It is a perennial, stoloniferous, short-spreading grass (Manidool, 1992). Culms ascendent, 20-50 cm tall, solid, and laterally compressed. The leaf sheath is fine and hairy along the outer margin; the nodes densely pubescent; ligule very short, fringed with short hairs; the leaf blade is lanceolate, flat, relatively short, 5-15 cm long by 2.5-16 mm wide, base broadly rounded; margin ciliate, apex obtuse.There are usually 2-4 inflorescences arising from the uppermost leaf axil (Henderson, 1959), the inflorescences are a slender stalk bearing two slender, 1-sided spikes usually 5-10 cm long, usually with a third inserted 1-2 cm below.Spikelets green, elliptical, pointed, flattened, shortly-stalked, 2-3.5 mm x 1-1.25 mm, pale-green, or purplish tinged, with a sterile lower floret, and a bisexual upper floret, lower empty glume absent, upper empty glume on the face of the spikelet away from the axil of spike, with green veins, lower flowering glume like the upper empty glume, upper flowering glume smooth, pale, very faintly-veined, stigmas white or purplish (Henderson, 1959).The caryopsis is elliptical, 1.25 mm long, dorsally compressed, yellow-brown (Manidool, 1992).

Distribution Map

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Distribution Table

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Hosts/Species Affected

A. compressus is considered to be a common weed in immature rubber (Tasrif et al., 1991), young oil palm (Barnes and Luz Chan, 1990; Hashim and Teoh, 1992), coffee (Alwa and Roa, 1992), cashew (Adeyemi, 1989), pineapple (Lee, 1976), guava (Somarriba and Somarriba, 1988), citrus (Lubigan and Moody, 1987), pastures (Chen and Othman, 1986), coconut (Smith and Whiteman, 1983), tea (Roa et al. 1981) and on golf courses (Leong, 1987).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

HostFamilyHost statusReferences
Anacardium occidentale (cashew nut)AnacardiaceaeOther 
Ananas comosus (pineapple)BromeliaceaeMain 
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeOther 
Cocos nucifera (coconut)ArecaceaeMain 
Coffea (coffee)RubiaceaeOther 
Durio zibethinus (durian)BombacaceaeMain 
Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm)ArecaceaeMain 
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeMain 
Mangifera indica (mango)AnacardiaceaeMain 
pastures Other 
Psidium guajava (guava)LithomyrtusOther 
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)MalvaceaeMain 

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

A. compressus may be confused with the closely related A. affinis, which has been introduced from South America to a number of countries of Asia and Australasia, also Hawaii. It has often been introduced deliberately, for use as a lawn grass, but it is now classed as a weed in at least nine countries (Holm et al., 1979). It has a similar growth habit and inflorescence but may be distinguished by its glabrous nodes (hairy in A. compressus), narrower leaf blades, rarely over 5 mm wide, and more obtuse spikelets (Bor, 1979).


A. compressus is common on roadsides and in gardens, waste areas and plantations (Henderson, 1959; Manidool, 1992). It is best adapted to moist, warm environments and is moderately shade tolerant, although it grows well in full sunlight. It occurs at altitudes of up to 2300 m in Indonesia. It is one of the most persistent grasses and can withstand trampling. It cannot withstand waterlogged conditions for long periods but grows on a wide range of soils, from sandy to heavy clay loams.

Habitat List

CategorySub categoryHabitatPresenceStatus

Biology and Ecology

A. compressus is a stoloniferous perennial spreading by above-ground runners which root at each node. When planted as a forage or lawn grass, pieces of the stolon with roots can be used as planting material. It may also be spread as a weed by vegetative means. It does, however, reproduce by seed and this means can also be used for turf establishment, at a seed rate of 6 kg/ha (Manidool, 1992). Although A. compressus and Asystasia gangetica are considered common weeds in oil palm and rubber plantations, their seeds were not detected in imported samples of legume cover crop seeds including Calopogonium mucunoides, C. caeruleum, Centrosema pubescens, Mucuna cochinchinensis and Pueraria phaseoloides (Tasrif et al., 1991).A. compressus seeds had a germination rate of 45% after 2 weeks, 55% after 8 weeks, 65% after 8 weeks, and 65% after 24 weeks, under alternating temperatures of 15°C (16 h) and 35°C (8 h) daily (Lee, 1976). The method of seed germination testing was described by Johnston and Harty (1981).A. compressus is not a particularly rapid colonizer of abandoned farmlands, and it is usually Imperata cylindrica, Asystasia gangetica and Chromolaena odorata which dominate these areas. In some instances, A. compressus has become the co-dominant species with Euphorbia heterophylla in Kwara State, Nigeria (Afolayan, 1988).Lee (1976) studied weed succession in pineapple areas on peat for 12 months starting from the time of planting. A. compressus survived in three plots despite competition from pineapple and 15 other weed species. A. compressus competes well in oil palm, rubber and cocoa plantations and is considered a weed on golf courses which have been planted with Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon) or Zoysia grass as the sole species.A. compressus responded poorly to fertilizer application in coconut-growing areas of southern Thailand (Boonklinkajorn, 1979).The morphology of the weed in relation to simulated trampling was studied by Sun (1992). He subjected A. compressus, Cynodon dactylon, Eragrotis tenuifolia, Hypochoeris radicata, Lolium perenne, Panicum maximum, Sporobolus elongatus and Trifolium repens to trampling. A. compressus and C. dactylon had the highest growth rate which was positively correlated with recovery rate after trampling (Sun, 1992).In Cuba, A. compressus provided the highest biomass of living plant material above ground (299 g/m²) in savanna communities at the end of the rainy season (Fiala and Herrera, 1988).Alternative HostA. compressus is an alternate host of maize streak monogeminivirus (MSV) in Nigeria (Mesfin et al., 1992). Haplaxius sp., a suspected vector of lethal yellowing disease of coconuts, was isolated at the nymph stage from the roots of the weed (Eden, 1978).

List of Pests

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Natural enemy of

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There is little information on the effect of A. compressus on crops. It has been recorded as a weed of rice in the Philippines (Lubigan and Moody, 1987) and is considered to be a common weed in immature rubber (Tasrif et al., 1991), young oil palm (Barnes and Luz Chan, 1990; Hashim and Teoh, 1992), coffee (Alwa and Roa, 1992), cashew (Adeyemi, 1989), pineapple (Lee, 1976), guava (Somarriba and Somarriba, 1988), citrus (Lubigan and Moody, 1987), pastures (Chen and Othman, 1986), coconut (Smith and Whiteman, 1983), tea (Roa et al. 1981) and on golf courses (Leong, 1987).A. compressus has been classified as a Class B plant (acceptable/tolerable as ground cover) (Chee, 1993) and is considered acceptable/tolerable as ground cover in the inter-rows of rubber, oil palm and orchards (Lee and Teoh, 1994). However, it is generally considered to be a weed when a dense cover surrounds young crops.The weed should be controlled in the circles and strips, but it can be allowed to persist in the inter-rows of rubber, oil palm, cocoa, coconut and fruit trees as a natural soft grass cover (Chee, 1993; Lee and Teoh, 1994; SA Lee, MARDI, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, personal communication, 1993).There is a trend towards using A. compressus as a natural cover crop on hill-slopes where rubber, oil palm, coffee, tea and fruit trees are grown. As a covering mat, it can control erosion and provide some protection against infestation by more noxious weeds. Broughton (1977) was the first to review the status of A. compressus and noted that A. compressus and Paspalum conjugatum had the lowest detrimental effect on fruit yield of oil palm on various soil types.

Uses List

General > Ornamental
Environmental > Erosion control or dune stabilization
Animal feed, fodder, forage > Forage

Detection and Inspection

A. compressus can be distinguished by its elliptical seed, 1.25 mm long, dorsally compressed and yellow-brown. The terminal inflorescence, with two rows of alternating spikelets, is also a distinguishing feature.

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control and Preventative Methods

It is important to exclude dung as a fertilizer supplement in nurseries where crop plants are raised because the seeds of A. compressus are easily disseminated by the dung of cows. The weed should also be controlled before it sets seed.The traditional hoe is used to control A. compressus in the tropics. Rooted stolons can be quite tenacious and some force is needed to dislodge clumps of the weed from the soil. Because of the ability of the stolons to re-root, care is needed to remove and dispose of the hoed material to prevent re-infestation.A. compressus is hand-weeded in pineapple-growing areas and the stem fragments are often placed on top of the crop to allow sunlight to desiccate the weed. The tajak, a triangular plate or hoe with a long handle, is still used to dislodge the weed from peat, in which pineapple is mainly grown (Wee and Ng, 1970).

Chemical Control

It is inadvisable to eliminate A. compressus completely in rubber and oil palm because it has minimal effects on growth and yield; it also minimizes soil erosion in undulating and hilly areas (Chee, 1993).Circles of young crop plants are often sprayed with herbicides to reduce infestation by A. compressus. Herbicides used in rubber include MSMA and DSMA (Wuan et al., 1982), paraquat + diuron (Lam et al., 1993), glyphosate + dicamba (Teng and Teh, 1990), paraquat + diuron (Endang et al., 1985) and glyphosate + picloram (Endang et al., 1985).Hashim and Teoh (1992) identified eight cost-effective chemical treatments for the control of A. compressus in extensive trials conducted in a 2-year old oil palm plantation in Malaysia; effective treatments included glyphosate with dicamba, or metsulfuron-methyl or fluroxypyr; paraquat mixtures were also cost-effective.Paraquat + diuron, diuron and dalapon + MSMA were most effective against A. compressus in tea (Roa et al., 1981). In banana, diuron pre-emergence gave effective control of the weed at high rates (Paresh and Misra, 1977).In pineapple, sensitivity to most of the post-emergence herbicides such as paraquat, glyphosate, dalapon, 2,4-D amine, MSMA and sodium chlorate resulted in their exclusion, but simazine or diuron can be used as pre-emergence herbicides, to be sprayed on clean-weeded soil.MSMA selectively controlled the weed in Bermuda turf grass (Cynodon dactylon) (Leong, 1987).

Animal Grazing

'Biological lawn mowers' like the banteng have a preference for A. compressus (Sumardja and Katawinata, 1977). Intensive grazing causes the weed to disappear (Jjong and Hung, 1975). Cattle graze on A. compressus in Malaysia (Dahlan et al., 1988) and, recently, sheep have shown potential to control the weed in oil palm and rubber plantations (Velayuthan and Lim, 1986). The feasibility of using sheep instead of chemicals has been investigated by Velayuthan and Lim (1986).

Mechanical Control

A. compressus may be mowed at weekly intervals in circles of citrus, durian, guava, rambutan and mango. Although weekly mowing is only practised by a minority of farmers, it has the advantage of maintaining a green mat on the soil. Hand-held rotary mowers are carried by operators on hill slopes; many annual weeds without subterranean rhizomes or tubers can be controlled in this way.

Integrated Weed Management

The trend is towards integrated management so that agriculture is sustained with minimal side-effects on the agro-ecosystem. A. compressus is hand-weeded or sprayed chemically in the strips of rubber, or circles of oil palm. However, it is purposely retained in the inter-rows to control soil erosion and form a covering mat against weed infestation. In rubber and oil palm plantations, A. compressus is now retained as natural cover in the inter-rows, but is considered a weed when it is found in the circles of young crops.


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