Skip to main content

Paspalum vaginatum Sw.
Salt Water Couch

Prodr. 21 (1788)
Conservation Code
Not threatened
Naturalised Status
Mixed (Native in Part of Range, Naturalised Elsewhere)
Name Status

Rhizomatous, stoloniferous perennial, grass-like or herb, 0.1-0.6 m high. Fl. green/green-purple, Dec or Jan to Mar. Calcareous sand, sandy clay. Lagoon margins, swamps, rivers, creeks.

Grazyna Paczkowska, Descriptive Catalogue, 1 December 1993


IBRA Regions
Avon Wheatbelt, Dampierland, Great Sandy Desert, Indian Tropical Islands, Jarrah Forest, Swan Coastal Plain, Victoria Bonaparte, Warren.
IBRA Subregions
Katanning, Keep, McLarty, Northern Jarrah Forest, Perth, Pindanland, Southern Jarrah Forest, Warren.
IMCRA Regions
Central West Coast.
Local Government Areas (LGAs)
Albany, Augusta Margaret River, Beverley, Boyup Brook, Broome, Busselton, Cocos Islands, Corrigin, Denmark, Donnybrook-Balingup, Harvey, Joondalup, Mandurah, Manjimup, Mosman Park, Northam, Plantagenet, Rockingham, Victoria Plains, West Arthur, Wyndham-East Kimberley, York.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)

Alternative Names. Saltwater paspalum, salt couch, salt couch turf, biscuit grass.

General Biology. Growth form. Grass. Life form. Perennial, stoloniferous. Reproduction. Stem fragments, rhizomes, seed. Dispersal. Water, inappropriate plantings, soil movement. Photosynthetic Pathway. C4.

Notes. Naturalised in South Africa, Hawaii and New Zealand. Salt tolerant species that has become naturalised in coastal environments. Known to alter the structure and composition of native flora, reduce habitat for shorebirds and fish, invertebrate populations, and change sediment accumulation and estuarine hydrology. Able to establish in coastal vegetation including mangroves, mud flats, shrubland, salt marsh, beaches and sandunes. Strongly invasive in estuarine and estuarine margin environments. Is an early coloniser of bare soil and once established can exclude other species for many years. Develops dense swards. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions such as drought, saline or recycled water, varying soil pH, extended periods of low light intensity, flooding or extended wet periods. Various genotypes with greater salinity tolerance have been developed. Resistant to insects and disease. Primary mode of reproduction is asexual.

Additional information. Origin. North and South America, possibly Europe. History of use/introduction. Lawn/turf, landscaping and revegetation, erosion control, forage, wetland restoration, site reclamation, recovery of salt-affected lands. Similar exotic species. Paspalum distichum.

Suggested method of management and control. Avoid removing manually or mechanically as there is a risk of spreading plants from resprouting root fragments. Spray with glyphosate 1% 2-3 times over single growing season. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Dormant           Y Y Y          
Active Growth Y Y Y Y O       O Y Y Y  
Flowering Y Y Y Y             Y Y  
Fruiting Y Y Y Y                  
Herbicide Treatment Y Y Y Y O         O Y Y  

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.



  • AWI & CRC Salinity (2006) SALTdeck series: saltwater couch - Paspalum vaginatum. University of WA, Crawley. URL: - Accessed January 2010.
  • Batista, L.A.R. & Godoy, R. (1998) Seed production ability of accessions of the Paspalum genus. Revista Brasileira de Zootecnia, 27 (5): 841-847.
  • Brown, K. & Brooks, K. (2002) Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network, Greenwood.
  • FengZhi, C., Qi, W., YuYong, H. & ZhaoLong, W. (2009) Salinity stress responses and tolerance thresholds in four warm-season turfgrasses. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 18 (3): 192-199.
  • Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. & Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. 2nd Edition. The Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park.
  • IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2008) Global Invasive Species Database - Paspalum vaginatum (grass). IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) with support from ASB Community Trust, New Zealand URL: - Accessed January 2010.
  • JingBo, C., Jun, Y., TingTing, Z. & JianXiu, L. (2008) Growth responses of four warm season turfgrasses to long-term salt stress. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 17 (5): 30-36.
  • Lakanmi, O.O. & Okusanya, O.T. (1990) Comparitive ecological studies of Paspalum vaginatum and Paspalum orbiculare in Nigeria. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 6: 103-114.
  • Lee, G., Duncan, R.R. & Carrow, R.N. (2000) Salinity Tolerance of Paspalum vaginatum and Cynodon spp. Genotypes. Australian Turfgrass Management, 2.3.
  • Shaw, W.B. & Allen, R.B. (2003) Ecological impacts of sea couch and saltwater paspalum in Bay of Plenty estuaries. DOC Science International Series 113, Department of Conservation, Wellington.
  • Shin, J.S. (2006) Environmental factors influencing germination in seeded seashore paspalum. HortScience, 41 (5): 1330-1331.