The names by which we refer to different turfgrasses, weeds, diseases and pests can create a world of confusion. One person’s lawn grub may be a totally different species to another’s. Jyri Kaapro Bayer's Turf Consulting Manager, Jyri Kaapro, is a renowned personality in the Australian turf industry, having worked for the past 13 years in Research & Development at Bayer.
Crabgrass in Western Australia commonly refers a Digitaria weed, while on the East coast Summergrass would be its more common name. This is taken to the extreme with the plant Soliva sessilis which in Western Australia is known at Jo-Jo or Onehunga, in the rest of Australia as Bindyi (or Bindie) and in the USA as Lawn Burweed.
Careful application avoids common names
Common names are dangerous when diagnosing species and selecting appropriate treatments. Too many times herbicides registered for “couch” have been used on Queensland Blue Couch with devastating consequences.
The most accurate way to refer to different species is by their scientific or Latin name, although the name isn’t always derived from Latin. These are binomial names, composed of two words. The first is the Genus and starts with a capital letter; the second is the species within that genus and starts with a lower case letter.
Humans belong to the genus Homo and within this genus to the species sapiens. Scientific names are commonly written in italics. This binomial naming system was started in the 18th century by a Swedish scientist, Carl Linnaeus.
Scientific names can change over time; often taxonomists discover more about a particular species and realize it has been wrongly classified. Recently, scientists have made changes to the scientific names of common turfgrass species and diseases:
- Anthracnose disease has changed from Colletotrichum graminicola to Colletotrichum cereal.
- Research by several universities in the USA proposes the cause of Dollar Spot disease be reclassified to two new fungi, Rutstroemia floccosum and a Polcum species.
- Kikuyu is now Cenchrus clandestinus (previously it was Pennisetum clandestinum).
- Tall Fescue has been referred to as Schedonorus arundinaceus, although the original name Festuca arundinacea also seems be in common use.
The database contains information on all the known species in Australia collected from a wide range of data providers: museums, herbaria, community groups, government departments, individuals and universities.
It can be a very useful resource for all involved in turf management.