St. Augustinegrass

St. Augustinegrass, Stenotaphrum secundatum, is a warm-season, sod-forming grass used extensively in lawns and parks in Florida and along the Gulf Coast to Texas. It is generally just called “St. Augustine” in the United States, or “Charleston” in some southeastern United States, and “buffalograss” in Australia and Republic of South Africa. Cultivars include the older ‘Bitterblue’ and ‘Floratam,’ dwarf cultivars such as ‘Palmetto’ and ‘Seville,’ and the latest ‘CitraBlue’ and ‘ProVista.’

St. Augustinegrass runners are entirely stolons (above-ground) so it has relatively little tolerance to defoliation (leaf removal). Drought injury, fertilizer burn, and scalping (close mowing) can kill St. Augustinegrass. St. Augustinegrass performs well in moderate shade although the cultivar ‘Floratam’ is less adapted to shade than the dwarf cultivars. St. Augustine is competitive to many weeds. The southern chinch bug, Blissus insularis, is a major pest. Cultivars have little or no cold hardiness; based on a field study in 24 Florida counties, St. Augustinegrass winter survival is limited to “a minimum air temperature between -6 degrees C and -9 degrees C” (Busey, 2003). The center of origin is almost certainly Old World because the six other Stenotaphrum species are entirely Old World in distribution, in an arc from southern African and across the Indian Ocean to Hainan, China.

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