The climate of the Hawaiian Islands is such that a tremendous variety of grasses can grow well and produce fine turfgrass surfaces. I was recently at Hawaii to do some botanizing on the Big Island and on Oahu. Thanks are due to Les Jeremiah, CGCS, who helped guide me to some of the most interesting turfgrass sites; we visited fifteen distinct sites and made a quick survey of the grasses growing at each.
The species added up in a hurry! In just two days we saw:
Creeping bentgrass, Agrostis stolonifera
Bermudagrass, Cynodon dactylon
Hybrid bermudagrass, C. dactylon x C. transvaalensis
Broadleaf carpetgrass, Axonopus compressus
Narrowleaf carpetgrass, Axonopus affinis
Kikuyugrass, Pennisetum clandestinum
Manilagrass, Zoysia matrella
Japanese lawngrass, Zoysia japonica
Seashore paspalum, Paspalum vaginatum
Hilograss, Paspalum conjugatum
St. Augustinegrass, Stenotaphrum secundatum
We saw what was growing in the sun, what was growing in the shade, what grows under irrigated conditions, and what grows where no irrigation is applied. There is a striking contrast in grass species performance between the relatively sunny climate at Honolulu (at right) and the much cloudier conditions at Hilo (top right). At Hilo, even in full sun, we saw a lot of carpetgrass and manilagrass and very little bermudagrass. In full sun at Honolulu we saw a lot of bermudagrass and much less manilagrass or carpetgrass. And naturally, in unirrigated areas, we saw lots of bermudagrass, and very little seashore paspalum.