Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
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Forest bluegrass

Scientific name(s)

Bothriochloa bladhii  ssp. glabra



Plant description

Plant:  A tufted perennial warm season grass, erect or prostrate then erect, 40-80 cm tall before flowering, sometimes with short stolons.

Stems: Culms largely unbranched, 1-1.5 m tall at maturity.

Leaves: Leaf-blades 20-30 cm long, 5-7 mm wide, tapering gradually from the base to a fine point. Leaves have a membranous ligule.

Seedhead: A panicle comprising up to 20, mostly simple, green to purplish branches arising from different positions. Seed has bent and twisted awn, 10-25 mm long.

Seeds:  1.2-1.9 million seeds/kg

Pasture type and use

It is suitable as permanent pasture on poorer forest soils but also on more fertile forest and scrub soils for beef and sheep production in moderate rainfall areas.

Where it grows


It is adapted to areas receiving 500-1000mm/yr and is sown mainly in areas with rainfall above 750 mm/yr but can persist in areas with lower rainfall.


Grows on both fertile and infertile soils with textures from sandy loam to clays and hard-setting clay loams.


It grows during the warm season and tops are killed by heavy frost.


Companion species

Grasses: rhodes grass, digit grass, tall finger grass.

Legumes: lucerne, annual medics, sub clover, yellow serradella, birdsfoot trefoil.

Sowing/planting rates as single species

2-4 kg/ha.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

1-2 kg/ha.

Sowing time

It can be sown from spring to late summer. It is best sown in spring if weeds, especially annual grass weeds, are controlled or minimal, or in late-summer.


Not applicable


No fertiliser is required for establishment on suitable soils although phosphorus may be needed for establishment of companion legumes.


Maintenance fertliser

It is tolerant of low soil nitrogen levels, competing well with native grasses in forest country, where other improved pasture grasses may fail. Established stands respond to application of nitrogen fertiliser.


Establishing stands with well developed secondary roots should only be grazed lightly to consume palatable weeds.

Seed production

100-150 kg/ha seed may be obtained from nitrogen fertilised stands or on more fertile soils in first year.

Ability to spread

It spreads by seed and expands by short rhizomes.

Weed potential

Forest bluegrass has a low weed potential but it may replace ecologically very similar native grasses, pitted bluegrass and red grass, on sandy surfaced duplex soils.

Major pests

No major pest known.

Major diseases

Rust may be evident late in the season but is of little concern in grazed stands.

Herbicide susceptibility

It is killed by glyphosate and is tolerant of atrazine at low rate.

Animal production

Feeding value

Quality declines with age, and more rapidly with the onset of flowering. Crude protein level in young leaf may be 10%, declining to below 5% in mature growth.


It is readily eaten by livestock in the leafy stage, and can tolerate heavy grazing. The strongly scented herbage does not taint milk or meat.

Production potential

Annual pasture yields of about 7 t/ha DM are achievable and more in nitrogen fertilised seed crops. Cattle can gain an average 0.5 kg/hd/day, with a peak 1.25 kg/hd/day in late summer and a small weight loss in winter.

Livestock disorders/toxicity

No health problems are known in grazing livestock. It is low in oxalate and therefore is a suitable pasture grass for horses.


Cultivar Seed source/Information
Swann Progressive Seeds

Further information

Grassland Species Profiles

NSW DPI Agnote DPI-391 Forest bluegrass
Tropical Forages database (SoFT) - Forest bluegrass



Author and date

Dr. Walter Scattini

December 2008