Keppel Indian (Couch)

Reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide use Carbon Buster™ grasses and legumes

Scientific name(s)
Bothriochloa pertusa


  • Provides a good groundcover.
  • Grows on infertile soils.
  • Adapted to hard-setting soils.
  • Competes well with weeds.
  • Produces good quality forage.
  • Tolerates heavy grazing.
  • Ideal for amenity purposes as low growing.


  • Awned seed, difficult to harvest, handle and sow.
  • Becomes unpalatable after flowering.
  • Competes strongly with legumes.

Plant description

Plant: A stoloniferous, mat-forming perennial, 30 – 60 cm tall.

Stems: Stolons commonly red or pink, rooting down at nodes. Nodes hairless or hairy. Stems erect, or prostrate becoming erect.

Leaves: Grey-green in colour, the blades 5 – 10 cm long, 2.5 – 5 mm wide. Leaf blade surface is usually hairless except for a few sparse hairs at the base.

Seeds: Often pitted, with a sharply bent and twisted awn, 10-18 mm long; bare 1.0 – 1.5 million seeds/kg. Coated 250,000 to 375,000 seeds/kg.

Seedhead: Comprise 3 – 8 branches arising from different points on a central axis, 1 – 3 cm long, and purplish in colour.

Pasture type and use

Indian bluegrass is suitable as a permanent pasture on poorer soils. It can be cut for hay. It is used for erosion control, reseeding eroded land, waterways, revegetating mine waste and for lawns, sown by seed or from sprigs.

Where it grows

It is usually sown in areas receiving 600 – 900 mm/yr, but is naturalised in areas outside these limits.

It is adapted to low fertility, acid to alkaline soils, from sands to clays. It colonises poorer soils when tufted grasses succumb to heavy grazing.

It grows during the warm season and tops are killed by heavy frost.


Companion species
Grasses: Blue Dawn, Saraji sabigrass, Queensland blue couch, Queensland bluegrass

Legumes: roundleaf cassia, jointvetch, lotononis, fine stem stylo, Caribbean stylo.

Sowing/planting rates as single species
Coated seed 6 – 10 kg/ha in pasture situations and 10 to 20 kg for amenity purposes. (Seed coated for ease of sowing)

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures
Coated seed 3 – 6 kg/ha in pasture situations and 15 to 25 kg for amenity purposes (Seed coated for ease of sowing)

Sowing time
While it can be sown from spring to late summer, it is best sown in spring when annual weeds are minimal, or in mid-summer if spring fallow is required to minimise annual grass and broadleaf weeds before sowing.

Not applicable

No fertiliser is required for establishment on suitable soils.


Maintenance fertiliser
It has a low requirement for plant nutrients for stand persistence, with production usually limited by moisture availability. Suitable soils rarely need additional phosphorus but nitrogen fertiliser increases production, especially on run-down cropping land. Sulphur may be needed on some basalt soils if high rates of nitrogen are applied.

It is suitable for grazing and hay production.

Ability to spread
It spreads by seed and expands by long stolons that root down at nodes.

Weed potential
It is regarded as a weed of pastures in some areas, although this is usually a symptom of declining fertility and heavy grazing.

Major pests
No major pests known.

Major diseases
Rust and ergot are observed in some varieties or naturalised ecotypes but cause only minor problems in grazed swards or in seed crops.

Herbicide susceptibility
It is killed by glyphosate and is tolerant of atrazine.

Animal production

Feeding value
Quality declines with increasing maturity, especially after flowering. Crude protein levels in young leaf may be 12% but as low as 3% in mature pasture.

It is particularly well eaten when young and leafy but not so well when mature.

Production potential
Generally low yields of 1 – 5 t/ha DM are achieved, because of the poor soils on which it is naturalised or on which it is sown in lower rainfall environments. Cattle produce from 80 – 140 kg liveweight gain/hd/yr at about 1 steer/ha.

Livestock disorders/toxicity
No toxicity has been reported.