Carib grass (Eriochloa polystachya H.B.K.) is valuable pasture grass native to northern South America and the Caribbean.
Eriochloa polystachya is an annual or perennial stoloniferous grass, growing to a height of 2 m. Its culms are coarse (13 mm in diameter), straight in young plants and decumbent at maturity. Carib grass roots from the lower nodes and its root system is relatively shallow. Carib grass is pubescent at the nodes and leafy. Leaves are alternate and the blades are glabrous or pubescent, flat, linear, 6-28 cm long x 6-18 mm wide. Inflorescences are open panicles borne at the end of the culms. The spikes (5-18) are 2-6 cm long, spreading or ascending. The spikelets are 3.2-3.9 mm long, lanceolate to ovate in shape, pubescent and have a distinctive purple point at their base (Shaw et al., 2007; Quattrocchi, 2006; Clayton et al., 2006). Carib grass is very similar to, and often mistaken for, Para grass (Brachiaria mutica), though it has thinner and shorter culms, shorter panicles and more abundant, darker and broader leaves (Rodriguez-Carrasquel, 1983). They are difficult to distinguish in the absence of inflorescences. Para grass and carib grass frequently grow together, are similar in their growth habits and environmental requirements, and often crowd out all other grasses on poorly drained soils (Kretschmer et al., 2001).
Carib grass is considered to be valuable forage. Carib grass can be grazed or cut for green chop, hay or silage (Skerman et al., 1990). However, it is primarily described as a pasture grass in the literature.