Eragrostis cilianensis (All.) Vignolo ex Janchen

Family: - Poaceae


Eragrostis is from the Greek word eros for love and agrostis for grass and refers to the delicate flower structure.

Stinkgrass refers to the odour of the plant when wet.

Other Names

Stinking lovegrass

Strong Scented Lovegrass

Black Grass


An aromatic, vigorous, summer growing, tufted, upright or sprawling annual grass to 60 cm tall with compact, green to purple seed spikes borne on a pyramid shaped structure. From a distance it appears rather dark grey when flowering.




First leaves:

Similar to older leaves but often with a serrated margin.


Emerging leaf rolled in the shoot.
Blade - Often olive green, flat and broad or loosely rolled, thin, papery, obvious veins, smooth, tapered to a fine point. Pitted glands along the mid veins and raised thickenings or wart like glands on the edges. Odorous when wet or crushed. Hairless apart from a tuft of long, fine hairs where the blade meets the sheath.
Ligule - Tuft of hairs.
Auricles - Tuft of hairs
Sheath - Pitted glands along the mid veins. Hairless.



Flower stem - 400 mm tall, slender, hairless, smooth, obvious veins, 1-4 nodes, erect or sharply bent at the lower nodes, unbranched or branched from the lower nodes. Sometimes has a ring of oval, yellow, pitted glands below the nodes which emit an unpleasant odour when damp or crushed.

Flower head:

Narrow, loose, pyramidal panicle borne well above the leaves with grey coloured spikelets.

40-180 mm long by 15-75 mm wide and often smaller, narrowed towards the tip with spreading often short, erect branches to 55 mm long scattered distantly along the axis


Spikelets - 10-32 flowered, 2-5 mm wide by 7-18 mm long, lance shaped to oblong, flattened, furrowed, lead grey.
Borne singly on short stalks 1-2.5 mm long along the branches
Florets -
Glumes -
Palea -
Lemma - Lead grey, olive green or purplish fading to straw colour with age. Keeled by the midrib, have large teeth with smaller teeth (Nearly biserrate), side veins obvious, Midrib may have wart like glands.
Stamens -
Anthers -



Red brown, oval to spherical, small, less than1 mm diameter. Surface smooth, shiny, finely dimpled and hairless.



Key Characters:

Leaves with pitted glands along the mid nerves (sheaths and blades) and raised thickenings along the margins.

Spikelets with 12-30 flowered, 4-5 mm broad.

Lemmas nearly biserrate, lateral nerves conspicuous.

From Nancy Burbidge


Life cycle:

Annual. Germinates after spring to summer rains and grows quickly, choking out most other species. It then flowers and sets large amounts of seed.



By seed.

Flowering times:

Summer to Autumn in NSW.

Summer in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Large amounts of seed are produced.

Vegetative Propagules:



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread by seed. It is most abundant on fallow lands or areas carrying winter annual species. It can compete seriously with summer sown crops.

Origin and History:

Native to North Africa and the Mediterranean.



From Esperance to Geraldton and Kununurra in WA.



Warm temperate.


Prefers red loamy and red sandy soils, avoiding very sandy and very heavy clay soils.

Plant Associations:

Summer fallow weeds.



Fodder that is eaten when young but becomes unpalatable after flowering.


Competes with summer crops.

Widespread summer weed of roadsides, fallows, summer crops, disturbed areas and stubbles


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:

Heavy grazing when young provides some control. Non selective herbicides are normally used in fallow situations.


Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 2-3 years.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

African Lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula)

Browns Lovegrass (Eragrostis brownii)

Canegrass (Eragrostis australasica)

Delicate Lovegrass (Eragrostis tenellula)

Elastic grass (Eragrostis tenuifolia)

Heartseed grass (Eragrostis superba)

Knottybutt grass (Eragrostis xerophila)

Mallee Lovegrass (Eragrostis dielsii)

Mexican Lovegrass (Eragrostis mexicana)

Neat Lovegrass (Eragrostis basedowii)

Neverfail grass (Eragrostis setifolia)

Paddock Lovegrass (Eragrostis leptostachya)

Pitted Lovegrass (Eragrostis barrelieri)

Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis lacunaria)

Sickle Lovegrass (Eragrostis falcata)

Small Stinkgrass (Eragrostis minor)

Soft Lovegrass (Eragrostis pilosa)

Stinkgrass (Eragrostis cilianensis)

Teff grass (Eragrostis tef)

Weeping Lovegrass (Eragrostis parviflora)

Woollybutt grass (Eragrostis eriopoda)

Plants of similar appearance:



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Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P54.

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