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An Interesting Technique to Modify Fairway Conditions in Thailand

Seashore Paspalum in London?

I visited the herbarium at Kew Gardens last summer for the purpose of looking at grass specimens from Southeast Asia. I was especially interested to see what types of seashore paspalum and manilagrass were in the herbarium collections. If you read the paper in Weed Science about weeds in seashore paspalum in southern China, in which manilagrass overgrew a stand of seashore paspalum, or if you have read some of my posts at the Turf Diseases blog in which I have mentioned the challenges of trying to maintain seashore paspalum in Southeast Asia, or if you have grown seashore paspalum in Southeast Asia, you will understand that the turf-type seashore paspalum requires more inputs than other common turfgrasses in order to persist in this growing environment.

Seashore paspalum is not a new grass in Southeast Asia. The image above shows a turf-type seashore paspalum collected at Bangkok in 1923; the common type at right was collected at Koh Tao, an island in the gulf of Thailand (see image below) in 1927. Other seashore paspalum specimens in the collection were collected more than 120 years ago, including from the Philippines in the 1880's.

Seashore paspalum on golf courses in Southeast Asia today, without extensive inputs, will be overtaken by manilagrass or bermudagrass. The common type of seashore papspalum with long internodes is a weed that invades wet areas on golf courses and other turfed landscapes. The turf-type of seashore paspalum, with short internodes, has been growing in the wild in Southeast Asia for over a century, but it does not spread as a weed; it grows only in a very specific niche, similar to its native habitat. The sample collected at Bangkok, according to the specimen notes, was found "on open ground in tidal swamp."

Manilagrass and hybrid bermudagrass grow aggressively in Southeast Asia and make a better general-purpose turfgrass. Turf-type seashore paspalum requires extensive inputs and constant vigilance in an attempt to replicate that "tidal swamp" environment while still producing suitable playing surfaces for golf.


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