Most Jamaican plants and grasses have been introduced at various times in the island’s history. One of the few native grasses is commonly called Guinea grass. Other forms of introduced grasses do very well in Jamaica’s rich soils and hot, humid climate. Grasses in Jamaica are grown for the same reasons as grasses in the United States: pasture, erosion control and for lawns.
China grass has been grown experimentally in Jamaica as a forage grass and for a source of plant fiber. China grass grows at lower altitudes in Jamaica and, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), China grass grows well with oranges. Although the FAO lists modern experiments, a 1906 document published by the Jamaican Department of Agriculture lists China grass as being grown as an export crop. China grass is sometimes called centipede grass. China grass is commonly used as a turf grass, in addition to a forage grass, and responds well to mowing. It grows well in either full sun or partial sun.
Although Guinea grass is native to Jamaica, it is also native to many other areas and is commonly grown as an introduced grass in yet others. Guinea grass is commonly grown as a pasture or feed grass. Guinea grass is a tall perennial grass that reseeds itself when allowed to mature. The flower spikes of this grass can reach 12 to 16 feet if not mowed or eaten as fodder. There are some shorter cultivars of this grass. When using Guinea grass as a grazing grass, wait until the first dry season to allow animals to feed on the grass.
Danthonia domingensis is a grass native to many parts of the Caribbean. This grass clumps tightly and can sometimes create tall clumps of grasses growing on roots that are above ground. Sometimes usable as a fodder grass, Danthonia domingensis can become a fire hazard during droughts or dry seasons as the blades and root structures die and dry out. However, the grass is one of the first to repopulate burned out grasslands.
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