What is Cynodon?

Casey Kennedy

Cynodon is a type of sod-forming perennial grass that is more commonly known as bermudagrass or dog‘s tooth grass. It is often used as a turf grass for sports fields, golf courses, parks and lawns. This grass is native to southeast Africa, but is often used as a general utility turf in Australia, India, South America and the southeastern part of the United States. Bermudagrass is found in more than 100 countries throughout the world.

Cynodon has gained popularity in the southern part of Missouri.
Cynodon has gained popularity in the southern part of Missouri.

In recent years, cynodon has also started to gain popularity in the US state of Hawaii and the southern part of Missouri. There are some restrictions to using this type of grass in Hawaii, however, since any hybrid cultivated version of cynodon must first pass Hawaii’s strict quarantine policy before it is allowed for use in the state. Despite these restrictions, several hybrid versions are already in use at many of Hawaii’s popular golf courses.

Cynodon is often used on golf courses.
Cynodon is often used on golf courses.

A warm-season grass, cynodon can grow to an average height of 15 to 24 inches (38.1 to 60.96cm) if it is left to grow on its own and not maintained by regular mowing. It is a creeping grass that has narrow leaf blades and spreads by rhyzomes, stolons or seed. The most productive growing time for cynodon in the US is typically the months of June, July and August.

Although this type of grass can adapt to many different soil conditions, it generally does best in a soil with a pH balance of 5.5 and up. It prefers a well-drained soil and full to partial sun. Cynodon does poorly under low-light or shaded conditions. The amount of sunlight it receives each day actually determines how well it will do.

While cynodon is considered extremely drought-tolerant, it does not make for a good turf when it is forced to survive under these type of conditions. This is due to the fact that it will become semi-dormant during periods of severe drought. It will then recover through its rhizomes and stolons once water is once again available.

There are several insects that can cause problems for cynodon turf. Mealworms, armyworms, webworms and bermudagrass mites will all feed on the leaves of this grass. White grubs, perhaps, do the most damage by actually feeding on the plant’s roots. When the grass is strong and has the proper management, it is typically able to tolerate a small population of these insects. For larger infestations, biological methods such as the introduction of milky spore disease or baccilus thuringensis may be required. If these methods are ineffective, a chemical insecticide may be used along with these biological methods to bring infestations down to a more acceptable level.

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