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Goose grass (Eleusine indica)

Datasheet

Description
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Common names 

Crabgrass, crowfoot grass, goose grass, indian goose grass, wire grass, yard grass [English]; eleusine d'Indes, eleusine des Indes, pied de poule [French; Plat handjesgras [Dutch]; capim da cidade, capim de burro, capim pé de galinha, grama de coradouro [Portuguese]; grama sapo, grama de caballo, grama de orqueta, grama dulce, hierba dulce, natajo dulce, olotillo, pata de gallina, pata de gallo, pata de ganso, yerba de camino, yerba dulce [Spanish]; چمن غاز [Arabic]; Rumput belulang [Bahasa Indonesia]; オヒシバ [Japanese]; 왕바랭이 [Korean]; ഇന്ത്യൻ ഗൂസ്, ഗ്രാസ്സ് [Mayalayam]; Rumput Sambau [Bahasa Melayu]; Kifungambuzi [Kiswahili]; Paragis [Tagalog]; mần trầu [Vietnamese]; 牛筋草 [Chinese] (USDA, 2019; Wikipedia, 2019).

Synonyms 

Cynosurus indicus L., Eleusine japonica Steud.

Description 

Goose grass (Eleusine indica (L.) Gaertn.) is an annual or short-lived perennial pantropical grass that is mostly considered as a noxious weed (Jalaludin et al., 2010). It can however be a productive forage providing up to 30 t/ha of fresh matter, and it can be eaten by livestock at early stages of growth (Ecocrop, 2019; FAO, 2017). The seeds are used as famine food and the vegetative parts can be eaten as vegetable (Lim, 2016)

Morphology

Eleusine indica is a short-lived tufted perennial that branches from the base and can have erect, decumbent or prostrate habit. The root system is particularly tough and difficult to pull out (Ecocrop, 2019). The culms grow to a height of 30-130 cm (Ecocrop, 2019; Welsh, 1998; Stone, 1970). The culms are geniculate at the base, slender and compressed. The leaves are alternate and the leaf-blade is flat, linear sometines folded, 5-35 cm long x 4-6 mm wide (Clayton et al., 2006; Welsh, 1998; Holm et al., 1977Stone, 1970). The culms hold 2-7 digitate panicles. The racemes are 4-15 cm in length. The spikelets are appressed, disposed in two rows on a single side of the rachis. The seed is a rugose caryopsis, 1-1.3 mm long, enclosed in a very loose, membranous pericarp (FAO, 2017).

Uses

Eleusine indica can be used as forage. It is palatable to livestock when young but becomes tough at later stages. It can be made into coarse hay or silage. The seedlings can be eaten raw or cooked as vegetables and the seeds can be cooked whole or ground into flour in times of scarcity in India (Ecocrop, 2019; Lim, 2016). Thanks to its tough root system, goose grass can be used to stabilize sandy soils. In ethnoveterinary medicine, goose grass is used to treat fever in ruminants (Pattanayak et al., 2017).

Goose grass is a close relative of finger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.) and resembles it, which makes its elimination difficult in fields of cultivated finger millet (Husson et al., 2012).

Distribution 

Eleusine indica is a pantropical and subtropical grass. It is found from sea level up to 1200-2000 m altitude in disturbed land, waste places , along roadsides and riversides, beaches and open banks and in damp marshlands. It thrives on sandy soil and N-rich soils. It is a threat in arable land, in lawns and in plantations and nurseries (Swarbrick et al., 1997). Goose grass is a summer, fast growing grass that optimally grows in full sunlight, where average temperature is 23°C and where annual rainfall ranges fom 500 to 1200 mm. It withstands some dry periods thanks to its extensive root system. It can grow on very shallow or compacted soils (Wagner et al., 1999).

Forage management 

Yield

Goose grass was reported to yield up to 30 t/ha of fresh matter (Ecocrop, 2019). In Nepal, it could yield 1.83–3.82 t/ha of DM through 5 harvests during the dry season (Regmi et al., 2009).

Environmental impact 

Weed

Worldwide, Eleusine indica is reported to be a pioneer weed in many types of land such as ash crop fields, plantations, or recreative fields (sports fields, turf, golf greens), especially in compacted soils (Ecocrop, 2019; NCSU, 2012; Jalaludin et al., 2010; Swarbrick et al., 1997; Henty et al., 1975 cited by US Forest Service, 2018). In Sierra Leone, in cattle enclosures, it was found to be the first and dominant pioneering species of the compacted soil after cattle were let out for free-range grazing (Boboh, 1974, pers. comm. cited by Burkill, 1985). It has been cited as an invasive weed of rice in Nigeria (Gill et al., 1978 cited by Burkill, 1985). In Malaysia, it was reported to be resistant to herbicide glufosinate (Jalaludin et al., 2010).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Eleusine indica has a low to moderate protein content, ranging from 6% to 15% DM, though more typically in the 9-12% range.

Potential constraints 

Cyanogenic glucosides

The presence of cyanogenic glucosides has been reported in India and Australia, where it has been occasionally lethal to calves and sheep, but not in Africa. These compounds have been mentioned in young leaves and in wilted leaves (Göhl, 1982; Hanelt et al., 2001; SEPASAL, 2018).

Ruminants 

Very few studies have been conducted on the forage potential of Eleusine indica for ruminant, in spite of its good resistance to repeated cutting, moderate drought and shade, probably because it is considered as a weed (Regmi et al., 2009). Goose grass has been reported to be grazed by wild game mammals and by buffaloes. In Zimbabwe, it has been reported to provide the greater part of grazing in the first year in recently planted pastures (Chippindall et al., 1976). Goose grass is regarded as good cattle fodder in India (SEPASAL, 2018).

Few digestibility values have been reported. In vitro digestibility values were 67% and 61% for DM and OM respectively (Nuwanyakpa et al., 1983Jackson et al., 1996). In vivo DM digestibility was 54% measured on goats (Regmi et al., 2009).

The few results available suggest it could be a good source of forage, either cut or grazed if used at a young stage. In Japan, Eleusine indica pasture was well accepted by cattle when allowed to graze various herbage species including weeds, and it was among the more palatable species among eleven species or cultivars tested (Nashiki et al., 2005). This result is in accordance with a more recent observation in Nepal where goose grass was well accepted and consumed by goats when offered with a limited amount of maize grain. Its nutrient digestibility and palatability were comparable to that of the mixed local forages (Regmi et al., 2009). However, a trial in Equator reported that Eleusine indica did not seem palatable to beef cattle when it was present as weed in improved pastures in the dry season, even though its protein content and in vitro DM digestibility were fairly good (Nuwanyakpa et al., 1983).

Rabbits 

Literature on the use of Eleusine indica in rabbit feeding is very scarce. This grass must be considered as a potential feed for rabbits because it is traditionally used by farmers as green forage to feed their rabbits in Central Java during the wet season, and in some areas during the dry season too (Prawirodigdo, 1985).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 27 7.2 19.3 38.4 8  
Crude protein % DM 10.9 2.4 6 15.4 22  
Crude fibre % DM 29 3.8 23.7 35.9 8  
Ether extract % DM 2.8 0.6 2.2 3.8 5  
Ash % DM 11.2 2.2 7.4 16 13  
Insoluble ash % DM 3   2.5 3.4 2  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 64.4 7 56.5 75.5 11 *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 34.1 7.3 20.8 50.6 11 *
Lignin % DM 4.1 2.3 1.3 8.2 7 *
Total sugars % DM 6.9       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.8         *
               
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 5.3 2 2.2 9.2 14  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.6 0.8 1.4 3.8 14  
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.2 1.3 1.7 5.8 13  
Potassium g/kg DM 18.2 8.3 8.6 29.4 12  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.26 0.17 0.06 0.5 8  
Sulfur g/kg DM 2.9   2.7 3.1 2  
Manganese mg/kg DM 67 35 23 131 7  
Zinc mg/kg DM 60 40 19 156 9  
Copper mg/kg DM 7 1 4 9 9  
Iron mg/kg DM 393 192 66 634 8  
               
Secondary metabolites Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Tanins, condensed (eq. catechin) g/kg DM 0.6       1  
               
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.2         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.1         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 62.9         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 65.8         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 67       1  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Abideen et al., 2011; Bhannasiri, 1970; CIRAD, 1991; Holm, 1971; Ikhimioya et al., 1996; Jackson et al., 1996; Nashiki et al., 2005; Nuwanyakpa et al., 1983; Orden et al., 1999; Regmi et al., 2009; Sen et al., 1965; Serra et al., 1997; Zaharaby et al., 2001

Last updated on 30/07/2019 11:30:16

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2019. Goose grass (Eleusine indica). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/446 Last updated on July 30, 2019, 11:30