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Mites, a Corpse Plant, and Native Grasses

I was at Bangladesh last week and I saw something that, in years of turfgrass work in Asia, and hundreds of visits to golf courses and other turfgrass sites, I had not seen before. At first, I thought this was a broadleaf weed invading a bermudagrass fairway. From above, this looks a bit like Mimosa pudica, one of my favorite weeds.

view from above, mite effect on bermudagrass fairway, Dhaka

In fact, this is bermudagrass, but it is infested with mites, causing a change in the growth habit and drastically shortened internodes. For a closer look, see the image below, with both normal growth and modified growth on the same stolon.

bermudagrass stolon with mite damage

That is definitely not Mimosa pudica! I saw bermudagrass mite damage at Hawaii this spring but the stunting was not so severe and the characteristic "witch's broom" appearance of the mite-infested turf, at Hawaii, was more of a broccoli or cauliflower shape, rather than this compressed and narrow appearance as noticed in Dhaka and Chittagong. My friend Storm Lupier sent me photos showing very similar symptoms on bermudagrass in the Seychelles. And there was similar damage on zoysiagrass turf at Dhaka as well. The two photos above are bermudagrass; the image below is zoysiagrass.

mite damage on Zoysia matrella

If you have a problem with mites at your course, consult with a local expert or follow the advice in this publication from the University of Florida.

I saw a bit of fairy ring on broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) at Bangladesh and on hybrid bermudagrass at Indonesia this week. The fairy ring disease profile at TurfFiles from NC State summarizes the recommended control measures for fairy ring.

You may be aware of the corpse plant (Amorphophallus titanum -- you can translate that yourself); I have not seen one, and being at Bogor recently, I went to look for one at the Bogor Botanical Gardens. These extensive gardens are 193 years old and have over 15,000 plant species and thousands of orchid varieties. Alas, I did not see a corpse plant in bloom, but I did see pulchritudinous acres of broadleaf carpetgrass, growing in full sun and in the shade of massive tropical trees, and the grass was completely free of diseases. In Southeast Asia, the grasses that grow as native plants here are generally free of diseases when maintained as turfgrass; these grasses are broadleaf carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus) and manilagrass (Zoysia matrella). Sod farms near Bangkok can produce a crop of manilagrass in six weeks using no herbicides, no fungicides, and very little mechanized equipment. See how in this short video:

4 Responses to “Mites, a Corpse Plant, and Native Grasses”

John Kaminski said...

How much does this sod cost?

Anonymous said...

Didn't know bermuda could do that - now I kinda want to do it on purpose because it looks really cool!

Micah Woods said...

That's what I thought; it almost looks like an overdose of a growth regulator and there are a LOT more leaves per unit area. But eventually this turf will succumb to other stresses so you would not want an infestation of mites.

John, the sod price varies by season, but would be about 16 baht per square meter (that is about USD $0.05 per square foot). Seashore paspalum sod and bermudagrass sod, by comparison, are sold for about 80 baht per square meter — 6 times the price of zoysia.

EPL said...

Carpet grasses are really best over natural grass as it requires less maintenance and are free of diseases.carpet grass singapore

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