Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally from  southern Africa, African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) is a long-lived tussock-forming grass usually growing 30 to 120 cm tall.
  • It has an upright habit with branched seed-heads, though it may sometimes develop a weeping nature when mature.
  • African Lovegrass spreads from roadsides and disturbed sites into neighbouring pastures and natural areas. It quickly overtakes degraded pastures, and prefers sandy or rocky soils.
  • Some forms of African Lovegrass are cultivated as soil stabilisers or are seen as valuable pasture grasses for semi-arid areas. However, the most invasive forms have a lower palatability and are not useful except when they are young.
  • African Lovegrass is also regarded as a major environmental weed and can form dense stands which crowd out native species and prevent their regeneration. It is a serious weed of remnant native grassy vegetation and can transform these communities by modifying their composition and structure.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula) is a densely tufted, and long-lived relatively large grass usually growing 30 to 120 cm tall, with hundreds of flowering stems per plant. Its hairless stems are usually slender and upright, although they may sometimes be slightly drooping or weeping in nature when mature. The leaves are flat or rolled and consist of a leaf sheath which partially encloses the stem, and a spreading leaf blade. Old leaf sheaths turn pale to yellowish and are retained. The leaves are densely tufted near the base of the plant and are often arched towards the ground, giving the plant a weeping appearance. The long and narrow leaf blades (5 to 35 cm long and 0.5 to 5 mm wide) gradually narrow to a pointed tip. Where the leaf sheath meets the leaf blade there is a ligule (a line of tiny hairs) 0.3 to 1 mm long. The leaf blades are roughly textured (scabrous) and often have their margins rolled inwards (Jessop et al. 2006; Navie & Adkins 2007).

The flower-head or seed-head is a large open panicle (6 to 30 cm long and 4 to 20 cm wide) that is initially rather compact, but usually becomes loose and spreading as it matures. These seed-heads have many branches, several of which may spread from the same point at the base of the cluster. The numerous flower spikelets are 4 to 10 mm long and 1 to 1.5 mm wide, are initially grey, greyish-green or purplish in colour, but become paler and turn straw-coloured as they mature. These flower spikelets are somewhat flattened, with a pair of glumes or bracts at the base of the spikelet and  4 to 13 tiny florets  (flowers). When the flower spikelets are mature they break apart and release the seeds. 

The fruits (seeds) are tiny, 0.3 to 0.7 mm long, oval or almost round in shape, and can vary from whitish to yellow, orange, brownish or black in colour (Jessop et al. 2006; Navie & Adkins 2007).

For further information and assistance with identification of African Lovegrass contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour

Green, Grey, Purple

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

African Lovegrass is a common weed of temperate  semi-arid, and sub-tropical regions that is occasionally also found in tropical and arid environments. It infests roadsides, railway lines, waste areas, disturbed sites, footpaths, pastures, grasslands, open woodlands, waterways and coastal sites (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Are there similar species?

African Lovegrass is very similar to many introduced and native lovegrasses (Eragrostis spp.) and an expert may be required to confidently distinguish between them. Some of the most common weedy species, including Stinkgrass (Eragrostis cilianensis), Mexican Lovegrass (Eragrostis mexicana) and Soft Lovegrass (Eragrostis pilosa) can be distinguished by the fact that they are short-lived and smaller in stature.

The majority of the native species are also short-lived plants that do not develop large tussocks, though some may attain a similar height to African Lovegrass and have a similar weeping habit. In addition, most of the longer-lived tussock-forming native species are much shorter in stature (usually less than 60 cm in height).

African Lovegrass is very similar to Eragostis trichophora, that is also a tufted many stem grass. 

However, African Lovegrass has long hairs at the very base of the stem where the plant emerges from the soil; the first (lower)  flowering branches are mostly alternate with out hairs where they join the stem. 

Eragostis trichophora has a smooth base with no hairs at the very base of the stem where the plant emerges from the soil, and and the first flowering branches are in a whorls of 4–6 with long white hairs where the branches join the stem.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

African Lovegrass was included in the list of 71 species that were nominated by state and territory governments for assessment as Weeds of National Significance (WONS). Following an assessment process, African Lovegrass was not included as one of the 20 WONS. However, it remains a weed of potential national significance.

Agriculture: African Lovegrass spreads from roadsides and disturbed sites into neighbouring degraded and poorly managed and overgrazed or poor quality pastures. It is very competitive with other pasture species and quickly overtakes, particularly in sandy soils. It is not normally eaten by livestock when mature, and this increases the competition on more preferable pasture species. African Love grass also has a low nutritional value, thereby decreasing pasture productivity (Navie & Adkins 2007). It can also invade vineyards, horticultural crops and orchards. 

Native ecosystems: This species is also regarded as a major environmental weed and currently causes significant problems in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. During a recent survey it was listed as a priority environmental weed in ten of Australia's Natural Resource Management regions (CRC 2006). African Lovegrass is an early coloniser of disturbed sites, grows rapidly, and can form dense stands which crowd out and replace native species, also preventing their regeneration (Navie & Adkins 2007). In New South Wales it is a particularly serious weed of remnant native grassy vegetation in farming areas, and can transform these threatened communities by modifying their composition, structure and processes. For example, it is seen as a threat to natural temperate grasslands throughout the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. African Lovegrass is also one of a group of exotic perennial grasses that have been listed as being a "key threatening process" in New South Wales. In Victoria it has also invaded heathlands, woodlands and grasslands and in south-eastern Queensland it is ranked among the top 50 most invasive plant species (Navie & Adkins 2007). African Lovegrass invasions also pose a threat to the survival of individual threatened species such as the endangered Narrow-petalled Featherflower (Verticordia plumosa var. pleiobotrya) in south-western Western Australia and locally threatened populations of the Pine Donkey Orchid (Diuris tricolor) in the Muswellbrook area in central New South Wales. Because it produces higher fuel loads than native vegetation and is highly flammable, particularly during the dry season, dense infestations can also increase the intensities of bushfires. This has negative impacts for more fire-prone native species and increases the fire hazard to people and property (Navie & Adkins 2007).

Urban environments:  Grows and invades roadsides and little managed and degraded urban areas.

How does it spread?

African Lovegrass reproduces by seed. Seeds can be dispersed in mud, soil and contaminated agricultural produce. They may also be spread by wind, water, animals and vehicles (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Navie & Adkins 2007). For example, slashing infested roadsides is a common method of dispersal, as the seed is easily transported to new areas on the machinery. Animals spread the seeds on their fur and hooves, and recent studies have also shown that cattle feeding on African Lovegrass can excrete viable seed up to 10 days after consumption (Land Protection 2006).

What is its history in Australia?

African Lovegrass seems to have been accidentally introduced into Australia at some time prior to 1900, probably as a contaminant of pasture seed. However, since then other forms of this species have also been deliberately introduced to be used as pasture grasses and/or soil stabilisers (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Silcock 2005). The most well known and widely planted of these is the cultivar known as 'Consol', which is more leafy and less weedy than the invasive form of this species.

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

For the best results, African Lovegrass requires an integrated control approach as part of overall pasture management. Maintaining a healthy pasture will help to reduce the chances of African Lovegrass infestation, as it quickly establishes in bare areas. Effective control also largely depends on preventing seed spread to clean areas (Land Protection 2006). Check with your local council or state/territory government agency about its requirements for African Lovegrass control.

Non-chemical control: Prevention is the best means of control. To reduce the chance of African Lovegrass establishing you can avoid bringing in hay, grain, or silage from African Lovegrass areas. Also limit animal movement from from infested areas into clean paddocks or quarantine new stock for at least 10 days if moving from infested areas. Maintain good weed hygiene for vehicles and machinery and  before coming onto your property.   

Early detection: controlling any new African Lovegrass infestations as soon as it appears should stop areas becoming infested. 

Pasture management: Maintain good pastures and weed management practices.  Physical disturbance such as slashing and ploughing are not recommended, as they can promote seed spread and re-infestation. However, physical disturbance followed by immediate replacement dense pastures will prevent African Lovegrass from germinating. If any seedling appear in or on the margins of the pasture and these can be controlled and chipped out or with application of herbicides before they flower. When chipping out the plant, ensure that the entire tussock crown is removed, as this will prevent regrowth (Silcock 2005; Land Protection 2006). 

Grazing: African Lovegrass is only palatable to livestock when very young before flowering for a limited time, and quickly forms a tough unpalatable flowering tussock and sets seed. Therefore, heavy grazing of young African Lovegrass is recommended as this is when it is the most palatable and nutritious to livestock, unfortunately at a time when feed is generally available from more palatable species. Grazing can stop African Lovegrass seeding, but should not be the main control strategy (DPI NSW 20219). As cattle can spread viable seed, they should be prevented from grazing on African Lovegrass while it is in seed, or quarantined before moving them into clean paddocks. Re-sowing of desirable pastures species may be the best option in heavily infested areas (Land Protection 2006).

Fire: Using fire as a management tool is not usually recommended for African Lovegrass, as it recovers faster than other species and its growth is usually enhanced following burning. However, applying herbicides or heavily grazing the fresh regrowth after a cool fire can help to reduce the large tussocks and encourage the diversification of better pasture species (Silcock 2005; Land Protection 2006).

Chemical control: African Lovegrass is difficult to destroy with herbicides but non-selective herbicides can be used on roadsides and spot infestations. Control in pasture depends on management of grazing pressures and appropriate use of herbicide (Government of South Australia 2021). Herbicides can be used as part of integrated management, but foliar application should only be conducted when the plant is green and actively growing. Residual herbicides are best applied from July to December, as this will prevent seed set in the following summer (Land Protection 2006). Spot spraying small or individual plants minimizes soil disturbance.  Herbicides are most effective in combination with healthy, competitive pastures. DPI NSW (2019) state that spraying as a single control method is only effective where African Lovegrass is selectively removed from a strong pasture. Burn heavy infestations before spraying the regrowth. Flupropanate gives the  best control of African Lovegrass. It can take three months to have a noticeable effect and up to 18 months to kill the plant. Avoid spraying in winter. Observe grazing withholding periods. Glyphosate will also kill African Lovegrass. Apply to actively growing plants in spring and summer. Use a glyphosate based herbicide to kill any regrowth.

See Invasive Species Unit, Biosecurity SA (2018); DPI NSW (2019); the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

African Lovegrass seeds germinate in spring and autumn if sufficient moisture is available (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). Flowering occurs throughout much of the year, but is most abundant from early summer through until early winter (Navie & Adkins 2007). The seeds usually mature during late summer and early autumn (January to March) (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?

Found in all Australian states and territories.

What areas within states and territories is it found?

African Lovegrass is a very widely naturalised species that is most abundant in the southern, eastern and western parts of Australia. It is common in eastern New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, south-eastern Queensland and south-western Western Australia and has a more scattered distribution in Victoria and the southern parts of South Australia. It is also present in other parts of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, naturalised in the  in the Tasmania, with a single historical record from Alice springs in the Northern Territory  (AVH 2021; Navie & Adkins 2007).

Where does it originate?

African Lovegrass is native to southern Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) (GRIN 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Eragrostis curvula

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Eragrostis chloromelas Steud.
  • Eragrostis curvula var. valida Stapf
  • Poa curvula Schrad.

Does it have other known common name(s)?

African Love Grass, Weeping Lovegrass, Weeping Love Grass, Boer Lovegrass, Weeping Grass

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