Axonopus compressus

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Seedheads (spikelike racemes), and seeds.

Foliage with seedhead.

Foliage - forms dense mat of stolons and rhizomes.

Foliage - forms dense mat of stolons and rhizomes.

With Desmodium incanum.

With Desmodium triflorum .

From:‘t Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (1992) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands). © Prosea Foundation.

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Scientific name

Axonopus compressus (Sw.) P. Beauv.

Subordinate taxon :
Axonopus compressus (Sw.) P. Beauv. var. jesuitica


Axonopus compressus (Sw.) P. Beauv. var. australis G. A. Black
Milium compressum Sw.
Paspalum compressum (Sw.) Nees
Paspalum platycaule Willd. ex Steud.
Paspalum platycaulon Poir.


Family: Poaceae (alt. Gramineae) subfamily: Panicoideae tribe: Paniceae .

Common names

blanket grass, broadleaf carpet grass, lawn grass, Louisiana grass, tropical carpet grass (English);  teppichgras (German);  capim-bananal, pasto-chato (Portuguese);  alfombra, grama ancha, grama bahiana, grama brasilera, grama trenza, zacate amargo (Spanish);  nudillo (Peru);  barbacoa (Venezuela);  bes-chaitgras (Suriname);  cañamazo (Cuba);  rumput pahit, papahitan, jukut pahit (Indonesia);  cow grass, rumput parit (Malaysia);  carabao grass, kulape (Philippines);  ya baimaln, ya-malaysia (Thailand);  savannah grass (West Indies).

Morphological description

Shallow-rooted stoloniferous and shortly rhizomatous perennial, with glabrous, oval-section (± 3.5 x 2.5 mm) stolon internodes and bearded nodes;  forms a dense mat with foliage 15-20 cm tall, and flowering culms mostly 30-45 (-60) cm;  can be mowed to a turf.  Leaf sheath compressed, keeled, glabrous or ±hirsute;  ligule a fringed membrane 0.5 mm long;  blades shiny, flat or folded, 4-18 mm wide, and 2-16 cm long, glabrous or hairy on the upper surface, margins ciliate, apex broadly acute or obtuse.  Inflorescence a panicle comprising 2 or 3 (rarely 5) slender, spikelike racemes, paired or sub-digitately arranged on a long slender peduncle ;  racemes (2-) 3-7 (-10) cm long;  spikelets, 2.0-3.5 mm long, 1-1.25 mm broad, inserted alternately either side of a flattened rachis.  2.6-3.0 million seeds per kg.
Differs from A. affinis in being more stoloniferous, and in having stouter culms and stolons, broader leaves, and longer, more acute spikelets.


Native to:
North America:  USA, Mexico.
Mesoamerica:  Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama.
Caribbean:  Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines.
South America:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Sub-humid and humid woodland and savannah , flourishing in moist soils.

Naturalised in:
Widely naturalised in the humid tropics and subtropics, especially west tropical Africa, South Africa, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.


Used as a permanent pasture, ground cover and turf in moist, low fertility soils, particularly in shaded situations.  It is generally too low growing to be useful in cut-and-carry systems or for fodder conservation .


Soil requirements

Adapted to well to moderately drained sandy or sandy-loam soils, but also to light clays and peats, flourishing in soils too infertile for Paspalum dilatatum .  Best in acid soils with pH (5.0-) 5.5-6 (-7), iron chlorosis above pH 7.  Low tolerance of salinity (<4 dS/m).


Mostly found in areas with an annual rainfall of (800-) 1,000-4,000 (-5,000) mm.  It is not very drought -tolerant, even less so than A. fissifolius .  While preferring moist soils, it does not withstand prolonged flooding or permanently swampy conditions.


Occurs from sea level to 3,000 m asl, and from near the equator to 27 (-32)º latitude, representing a significant range in average annual temperatures from (13.5-) 19-27°C.  Although found in the subtropics and upland tropics, it appears to be best adapted to the lowland tropics.  Tops are burnt off by frost, but plants recover with the onset of warmer, moist conditions - less frost tolerant than A. fissifolius .


It grows well in the shade, often forming a thick mat under dense tree canopies.  It is considered a valuable ground cover under oil palm and rubber plantations.

Reproductive development

A. compressus flowers over a wide range of daylengths, flowering through much of the growing season in most environments.


It thrives under heavy grazing.  Frequent grazing also helps to maintain it in a vegetative state.


Although mostly growing in areas where fire is not a problem, it recovers quickly from fire.


Guidelines for the establishment and management of sown pastures.


Commercial seed is often not available, so A. compressus is usually propagated vegetatively.  When seed is available, it is broadcast onto, or shallowly sown into, a well-prepared seed-bed to give the best chance of establishment.  Subsequent rolling helps maintain soil moisture and ensures close contact between soil and seed.  Choice of sowing rate depends on quality of seedbed and the rate of ground cover required.  With a good seedbed where rate of cover is not an issue, 2-3 kg/ha of seed is adequate, while with a less well prepared seedbed or where rapid cover is important, 6-12 kg/ha may be necessary.


Relatively low amounts of nitrogen can be fixed through non-symbiotic associations in the rhizosphere of A. compressus .  Even so, low rates of nitrogen can help to extend the otherwise fairly short growing season, and to maintain the sward in a vegetative state.  It does not appear to be very responsive to phosphorus, growing well in low P soils.

Compatibility (with other species)

As soil nitrogen levels decline and under regular defoliation , A. compressus can successfully invade pastures based on more fertility demanding species such as Paspalum dilatatum , Cynodon dactylon , and Setaria sphacelata, particularly if shade levels increase.

Companion species

Grasses:  Axonopus fissifolius , Chrysopogon aciculatus.
Legumes:  Arachis pintoi , Lotus uliginosus , Trifolium repens, T. semipilosum , Vigna parkeri .

Pests and diseases

It is not subject to any major diseases or insect pests, although it is attacked by grass webworm (Herpetogramma licarsisalis, Lepidoptera, Pyralidae), usually during rainy weather, and is an alternative host for Rhizoctonia solani and rice tungro spherical waikavirus.

Ability to spread

It spreads more quickly vegetatively under favourable conditions than A. fissifolius , but more slowly by seed, since it is a less prolific seed producer.

Weed potential

It can become a troublesome weed in the wet tropics.

Feeding value

Nutritive value

Forage quality is generally poor, but higher than for A. fissifolius .  CP level in 3-week regrowth following 100 kg/ha N has been measured at 22.3% of the DM, declining to 17.8% at 6 weeks.


It is slightly more palatable than A. fissifolius , but less so than Paspalum dilatatum .


No record of toxicity.

Production potential

Dry matter

Dry matter yields of 1-5 (-10) t/ha have been measured.

Animal production

Average daily liveweight gain of about 0.2 kg/hd/day has been measured in steers grazing A. compressus over an extended period.


A cross-pollinating, heterogamous species, forming mostly sterile hybrids with other species in the complex.  2n = 40 (rarely 50 or 60).

Seed production

Seed can be harvested with a stripper type harvester.

Herbicide effects

No data, but probably similar to A. fissifolius :
"Susceptible to DSMA, bentazon, bromoxynil, 2,2-DPA and metsulfuron methyl.  Tolerant of diclofop methyl."



Selected references

Barnard, C. (1969) Herbage Plant Species. Australian Herbage Plant Registration Authority; Canberra, CSIRO Australia, Division of Plant Industries.
Bogdan, A.V. (1977) Tropical Pasture and Fodder Plants. pp. 45-47. (Longman Inc., New York).
Evans, D.O., Joy, R.J. and Chia, C.L. (1988) Cover Crops for orchards in Hawaii. Hawaii Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. p. 14.
Gledhill, D. (1966) Cytotaxonomic revision of the Axonopus compressus Sw. Beauv. complex.  Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, 40 (2nd Ser.), 125-147.
Manidool, C. (1992) Axonopus compressus (Sw.) P. Beauv. In: 't Mannetje, L. and Jones, R.M. (eds) Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4. Forages. pp. 53-54. (Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands).
Wong, C.C. (1990) Shade Tolerance of Tropical Forages: A Review. In: Shelton, H.M and Stür, W.W (eds) Forages for Plantation Crops (Proceedings 32).ACIAR.

Internet links



Country/date released


None released to date.      

Promising accessions

Promising accessions



None reported.