Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Digitaria abyssinica
(A.Rich.) Stapf, Poaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 16 (Go to the risk assessment).

Other Latin names:  Digitaria scalarum (Schweinf.) Chiov.; Digitaria vestita Fig. & De Not.; Panicum scalarum Schweinf.; Syntherisma abyssinicum (Hochst. ex A. Rich.) Newbold

Common name(s): [more details]

English: Abyssinian finger grass, African couch grass

Habit:  grass

Description:  "Perennial; mat forming. Rhizomes elongated. Butt sheaths glabrous, or pubescent, or villous. Culms decumbent, or rambling; weak; 5-60 cm long. Ligule an eciliate membrane. Leaf-blades linear, or lanceolate; 2-12 cm long; 3-10 mm wide.  Inflorescence composed of racemes. Racemes 2-25; borne along a central axis; unilateral; 2-11 cm long. Central inflorescence axis 1-9 cm long. Rhachis wingless, or narrowly winged; angular. Spikelets in pairs. Fertile spikelets pedicelled; 2 in the cluster. Pedicels free, or fused to each other; united below; unequal.  Spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets elliptic, or ovate; dorsally compressed; compressed slightly; 1.5-2.5 mm long; falling entire. Glumes two; dissimilar; reaching apex of florets, or shorter than spikelet; thinner than fertile lemma. Lower glume ovate, or oblate; 0.1-0.8 mm long; 0.1-0.2 length of spikelet; membranous; without keels; 0-1 -veined. Lower glume lateral veins absent. Lower glume apex obtuse. Upper glume ovate; 0.66-1 length of spikelet; membranous; without keels; 3-7-veined. Upper glume surface glabrous. Upper glume apex obtuse. Basal sterile florets barren; without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret ovate; 1 length of spikelet; membranous; 7-veined; glabrous; obtuse. Fertile lemma elliptic; 1.5-2.5 mm long; cartilaginous; much thinner on margins; grey, or light brown, or purple; without keel. Lemma margins flat; covering most of palea. Lemma apex obtuse. Palea cartilaginous"  (GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora).

Habitat/ecology:  (no habitat/ecology info known by PIER)

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  Africa, Sri Lanka; naturalized elsewhere (GRIN).


Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
Herbst, Derral R./Clayton, W. D. (1998) (p. 23)
Voucher cited: Au s.n. (BISH 448776)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
Herbst, Derral R./Clayton, W. D. (1998) (p. 23)
East Maui. Voucher cited: Hobdy 434 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1940) (voucher ID: BISH 118719)
Taxon name on voucher: Digitaria abyssinica (A.Rich.) Stapf

Control:  If you know of control methods for Digitaria abyssinica, please let us know.

Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (

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This page was created on 2 MAR 2012 and was last updated on 12 MAR 2012.