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Broadleaf carpetgrass

Scientific nameAxonopus compressus
Other namesSpecies common name

Buffalo grass (Northern Australia), broadleaf carpet grass, cow grass (Singapore, South-East Asia), tropical carpet grass.

Known speciality lawn products


  • Whitsunday White, a variegated form of A. compressus, is sold in tropical Queensland for use as a ornamental lawn.
  • Shadetuff, which is a mixture of A. compressus and common green couch (Cynodon dactylon), is being sold as sod in North Queensland.
OriginA widely distributed native of the southern part of North America, South America and the Caribbean.

Naturalised in Australia and the Pacific Islands, favouring sub-humid and humid tropical and sub-tropical areas. Also naturalised in the Philippines, Indonesia, west tropical Africa, South Africa and India.

Very little selection and breeding work has been conducted.

Global growing areasA common lawn species in tropical Asia, the Pacific islands and Australia´s tropical north. Distributed through tropical Africa, South Eastern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, South America, subtropical Australia, New Zealand, China and eastern Asia.
IP protection´Common´ form has no protection; however Whitsunday White is covered by Plant Breeder´s Rights (Certificate #2709), granted 11 March 2005.

Very coarse


The naturalised form in South East Queensland has wide (averaging 10.4-13.0 mm) shiny dark-green leaves with wavy margins. Stolons are thick and oval (diameters approximately 3.5 and 2.5 mm) in cross-section, with hairy nodes. The leaf blade length averages 24.2-30.0 mm on the fourth visible node from the stolon tip. Shallow rooted. Keeled leaf sheath with a fringed membranous ligule separating the leaf shealth from the leaf blade. Forms a dense lawn, spread by stolons and short rhizomes. Produces prolific seed heads on tall stalks throughout the year.


Tropical lawns, parks, golf roughs and commercial premises.

Mowing height

30-50 mm. The upper end of the height range can be used in winter.

Unlike other grasses, broadleaf carpet grass can cope with scalping. This is a big advantage during protracted periods of high rainfall in the wet tropics. Even after a couple of weeks of rain and excessive growth, broadleaf carpet grass can be mown easily and without scalping damage.

Some mowing activity is directed at the control of the many seed heads, which stick up above the leaves. Needs frequent mowing to maintain an attractive lawn surface.

Method of propagation

Vegetative (runner, cuttings or plugs). Can be grown from seed, but this not readily commercially available.

Preferred soil types

Soils must hold some moisture. Does not perform well on sands unless frequently watered. Loams and clay loams are preferred. Tolerates soil compaction caused by high intensity tropical rainfall. Not tolerant of water logging. Survives under low fertility conditions. Has a low phosphorous requirement. Optimal pH range 5.5-6.0 (acid). Iron chlorosis can develop pH >7.0 .


This species can take over moist, shaded parts of the yard, forming a dense dark-green sward.  For this reason, it is often regarded as a weed in southern Queensland, but most north Queenslanders regard it as a valuable turfgrass. Can invade higher quality turf such as green couch (Cynodon dactylon).




Poor. Frost will kill the top growth, however the plants will eventually recover with the onset of warmer conditions. Leaf colour and condition can deteriorate in winter in subtropical areas, where broadleaf carpet grass is also one of the last grasses to come out of winter dormancy.


Very good shade tolerance to 50%. Also copes with protracted tropical cloud cover during the annual wet season. Maintains condition, but is more difficult to establish in shade.


Commonly found in high rainfall areas, having poor drought tolerance. Needs to be well watered as drought-stressed leaves fail to recover. This can lead to an uneven blend of well-watered green leaves and brown drought-stressed leaves.


Poor salinity tolerance (less then 4 dS/m)


Poor wear tolerance. Recovery poor in shaded conditions.

Herbicide sensitivity

Tolerant of diclofop-methyl, halosulfuron-methyl, MCPA + dicamba mixes (these vary, check individual labels). Susceptible to bromoxynil and DSMA.
Exercise extreme caution when reading chemical labels. Buffalo grass refers to Stenotaphrum secundatum on almost all labels. Axonopus compressus is normally referred to as carpet grass.

Pests and diseases
  • Attacked by sod webworm (Herpetogramma licarsisalis) in wet weather. Also susceptible to armyworms and white curl grubs.
  • Subject to brown patch caused by Rhizoctonia solani.



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