FLIP: Florida Invasive Plants

Melinis repens

Common Name(s): Rose natalgrass


Canary Islands, Africa, Seychelles, the Arabian Peninsula, and India

Ecological Impact

Melinis repens and other exotics are threats to scrub and sandhill systems due to their ability to displace native species which may change the community structure or ecological function of such a unique habitat.


Natal grass possesses branching culms that root at the nodes. These are able to reach 20 to 40 inches in height. The leaves are linear and 8 to 12 inches in length and grow from erect clumps. The flowers are borne in panicles 4 to 8 inches long, and are purple to pink in color with reddish hairs that turn gray with age. Although natal grass will perenniate, is primarily propagated by seeds, which are readily windborne.

Identification Tips

It is often confused with Melinis nerviglumis, but can be distinguished by the more open leaves.


Fast-growing pioneer species that colonizes degraded land and is resilient to harsh conditions. Grows in a wide variety of habitats from swampy ditches and lake margins to dry prairies, mesic woodlands, and longleaf pine savannahs (Hall 1978). Perennial and hardy to -6.6°C (20°F), but survives as an annual in colder climates. Tolerant of many soils, including limestone, sand, nutrient-depleted soil, and soil contaminated with heavy metals.


West Florida, and South Florida

Management Strategies

It should not be planted as an ornamental and should be pulled by hand in areas of conservation concern.


Most photos courtesy of the Atlas of Florida Plants; click for additional plant details.

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Florida Invasive Plants