Melinis repens: Rose natal grass

Family: Poaceae
Common name: Natal grass, Rose natal grass, Natal red top

Belonging to the ‘true grasses’ family of Poaceae, Rose natal grass is one of the most commonly seen grasses in India. Though inconspicuous among other weeds and grasses, you can see their true bejeweled beauty if you look closer.

Rose natal grasses are characterized by their beautiful deep-red flowers, that grow on tall stalks raising the flowers well above the leaves. Leaves are long, thin and erect growing to a length of 8-12 inches. The plants themselves reach a height of 20-40 inches by means of their tall red flowers. The flowers are initially deep red and looks bunches of rice grains.

But as they turn to seeds and are ready for dispersal, they become poufy, covered with tiny hairs and turn light pink in color. These seeds are dispersed by wind spreading the Rose natal grass to new locations, proliferating very quickly.

Though the plant is short-lived, their capability to produce abundant seeds and spread them quickly, makes the plant an invasive weed in many parts of the world.

In spite of their notoriety as invasive weeds, Rose natal grass is grown as forage and ornamental plants. They are drought-tolerant, making them popular in xeriscaping and gardening in drought-prone areas. They can also be grown on hillsides to prevent soil erosion since the shallow, spreading roots of Rose natal grass holds the soil together.

Propagation is through seeds

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