Brachiaria subquadripara (PROSEA)
Brachiaria subquadripara (Trin.) Hitchc.
- Protologue: Lingnan Sci. Journ. 7: 214 (1931).
- Family: Gramineae
- Chromosome number: 2n= 54-56, 72
Panicum subquadriparum Trin. (1828), P. miliiforme J. & C. Presl (1830), Brachiaria miliiformis (J. & C. Presl) Chase (1920).
- Cori grass (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Of tropical Asian origin (India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Malaysia, Pacific Islands), this grass has been introduced to other regions such as tropical Africa.
The main use of cori grass is as a forage for ruminants in coconut plantations where it is grazed by animals, and as a shade-tolerant ground cover.
Cori grass is very palatable, and young regrowth is of acceptable forage quality (1-2% N at 4-8 weeks).
A creeping stoloniferous perennial (reported as annual by some authors), mat-forming under close grazing, with slender stems up to 1 m long, ascending from a prostrate base up to 50 cm high, rooting at hairless nodes. Leaf broadly linear to narrowly lanceolate, 2-20 cm × 5-10 mm, glabrous, with rounded base and sharp tip. Inflorescence consisting of 2-5 widely spaced racemes on an axis 3-10 cm long; racemes 1-6 cm long, bearing singly attached spikelets in two rows; spikelets narrowly elliptic, 3.3-3.7 mm long, glabrous, pale green; lower glume shorter, upper glume as long as spikelet; upper lemma rugulose; stigmas purple.
The taxonomic situation of B. subquadripara and B. miliiformis is not clear. Some authors consider them to be synonymous whereas others claim these species are distinct but closely related, with B. subquadripara being a perennial with 2 n = 72 and B. miliiformis an annual with 2 n = 54 chromosomes.
Cori grass is widely adapted to the warm lowland tropics, but particularly suited to monsoon environments. It prefers medium- to light-textured soils of medium to high fertility. It is one of the most shade-tolerant tropical grasses, and this makes it particularly valuable for pastures in tree plantations.
Cori grass is easily and quickly propagated and established by stolon cuttings partially buried 10-15 cm deep. Planting density depends on weed potential and desired speed of ground cover; establishment of a minimum of 1 plant/m2is recommended.
Once well established, Cori grass can withstand heavy grazing and competes well with weeds, particularly under some shade. Under coconuts, annual DM yields vary from 4-9 t/ha. Suggested stocking rates are 1.5-2.0 steers/ha, and annual liveweight gain up to 400 kg/ha can be expected without affecting yields of coconuts.
The grass responds well to N fertilization and is considered to be moderately drought-tolerant. Legumes suitable for association with Cori grass are centro ( Centrosema pubescens Benth.) and tropical kudzu ( Pueraria phaseoloides (Roxb.) Benth.).
Genetic resources and breeding
In the major germplasm collections of tropical forages, CIAT (Colombia) and ATFGRC (CSIRO, Australia), B. subquadripara seems to be represented by only one distinct genotype.
Further development of the existing genotype to improve adaptation, production or quality is unlikely. However, the genetic base of Cori grass should be broadened through plant collection in view of its potential for pastures in tree plantations, particularly under coconuts.
- Bogdan, A.V., 1977. Tropical pasture and fodder plants. Longman, London. p. 58.
- Plucknett, D.L., 1979. Managing pastures and cattle under coconuts. Westview Tropical Agriculture Series, No 2. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, United States. pp. 211-213.
- Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F., 1990. Tropical grasses. FAO, Rome. pp. 260-262.