Plants perennial; sometimes stoloniferous, stolons to 6 m, or cespitose,
with or without rhizomes, rhizomes, if present, short, giving the plants knotty
bases. Culms 35-140 cm, erect or decumbent, not rooting at the basal
nodes. Basal sheaths glabrous or pubescent, often densely so, with 4-6
mm papillose-based hairs; ligules (1.8)3-5 mm, erose and ciliate; blades
5-40 cm long, 3-6 mm wide, scabridulous, often also papillose-hairy. Panicles
with 3-15 spikelike primary branches, digitate or with rachises to 3 cm;
primary branches 5-25 cm, wing-margined, wings wider than the midribs,
with spikelets in unequally pedicellate pairs; shorter pedicels 0.5-1.5
mm; longer pedicels 1.5-3 mm. Spikelets homomorphic, 2.8-3.5 mm,
narrowly lanceolate to narrowly elliptic. Lower glumes 0.3-0.5 mm, veinless,
acute; upper glumes 1.7-1.9 mm, wooly pubescent; lower lemmas
2.5-3.5 mm, 7-veined, veins unequally spaced and smooth, occasionally the lateral
veins scabridulous over the distal 1/4, margins and region between the 2 inner
lateral veins appressed-pubescent, with 0.5-1.5 mm hairs; upper lemmas
gray when immature, becoming brownish at maturity; anthers 1.2-1.6 mm,
purple. 2n = 36.
Digitaria eriantha is an African species that is widely cultivated in
warm climates as a pasture grass. Several cultivars have been released for forage
and hay use. The appearance of the spikelets varies considerably with the length
of the hairs, those of subsp. eriantha usually being longer than those of subsp. pentzii
The cultivar Digitaria umfolozi D.W. Hall ('Survenola'), a hybrid between D.
setivalva [= D. eriantha subsp. eriantha] and D.
decumbens [= D. eriantha subsp. pentzii] has been released
for use in the tropics and on well-fertilized upland soils in Florida. It is
described as having much wider leaf blades than any other cultivars that have
been released so far (usually 10-13 mm wide, rather than usually less than 8
mm) and glabrous leaf sheaths.