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Veldt Grass (Ehrharta calycina)

Grass Family (Poaceae)

  Ehrharta calycina (veldt grass). Greg Jordan, University of Tasmania, tas.edu.au
Photo: Greg Jordan, University of Tasmania, tas.edu.au

Description/Habitat:  Native to South Africa,veldt grass (Ehrharta calycina) is a tufted slender perennial that requires sandy well drained soils and some moisture. It was introduced in Davis, California as a drought-resistant grass for forage and to prevent erosion in the rangelands. Now it is known to occur all over California.
Veldt grass has an advantage over various native plants, in that it can grow well on loose sandy soils that are generally not productive. When it grows on these soils, the grass will set a copious amount of seed and readily move into empty areas and expand the invasion. A few things that have slowed its spread are that it cannot tolerate waterlogging, anaerobic conditions, or high salinity levels. In addition, if an intense fire passes through an area it can possibly deplete the seed bank, since most of the seeds are collected on the top layers of soil.
Leaves:  The leaves are often tinged a reddish purple at the point where it meets the stem, and the leaves are flat and wrinkled partway along one of the margins. The leaf blades are 3-8” (7-20 cm) long, and .08-.3” (.2-.8 cm) wide.
Flowers:  The flowers of veldt grass are formed on spikelets, and each has 3 florets per spikelet.
Seeds: The seeds are formed in loose panicles that are 4-6” (10-15 cm) long.
Flowering Period:  Veldt grass generally flowers in the spring, but larger ones can flower as early as January.
Management:  At Fort Ord National Monument, it has been found that spraying an initial foliar application is an effective way to reduce the veldt grass population. Veldt grass should be sprayed before the grass has begun producing flowers. For this application, you can use a 2% glyphosate solution with a surfactant.  Chemical treatments have better results if you reseed the area with native plants after application.
At Fort Ord National Monument, we generally do manual follow-up after chemically treating sites. However, if there are small sites to treat initially, manual removal could be used instead of chemical treatments. If attempting to remove the grass manually this is easiest while the veldt grass is in flower, but before the plant goes to seed. Waiting until this time is recommended because it is easier to distinguish the veldt grass from other grasses while it is in flower. To remove the grass, the entire buried base of the bunch grass must be removed or resprouting could occur. As well, any and all seedheads should be bagged and removed from the site.
One integrated approach that has been used by others, is an 8 step process: mowing, application of a post-emergent herbicide, a second mowing, second application of post-emergent herbicide, two separate applications of pre-emergent herbicide, seeding natives in the area, and then putting straw or mulch over the area to prevent non-native seeds from coming in.
Pickart, Andrea. 2000. Ehrarta calycina, Ehrarta erecta, and Ehrharta longifolia. Pp. 164-170 in Bossard, C. C., J.M. Randall, and M. C. Hoshovsky. Invasive Plants of California's Wildlands. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA.
"Monterey County Weed Threat." Office of the Agricultural Commision. County Ag Commisioner, n.d. Web. 18 June 2012. <http://ag.co.monterey.ca.us/pages/monterey-county-weed-threats>.

Sanford, Paul. "Perennial Veldt Grass (Ehrharta calycina)." Department of Agriculture and Food (n.d.): 1-2. Web. 18 June 2012. <http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/objtwr/imported_assets/content/past/perennial%2520veldt%2520grass.pdf>. http://florabase.dec.wa.gov.au/browse/profile/347

"Weed Control by Species: Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve October 2000." California Fish and Game, Oct. 2000. Web. 18 June 2012. http://www.elkhornslough.org/habitat-restoration/weeds.pdf.

Last updated: 08-20-2012