Napier grass for Phytoremediation
Phytoremediation often seems a simple but slow and unobtrusive process. Not visually obtrusive, no flash pumps nor any drill rigs, but a simple plant, just growing and doing its thing to improve soil quality.
Recent research by a group that involves the Australian CRC, CARE – based in Adelaide – has shown that a commonly used tropical pasture grass – Napier grass , Pennisetum purpureum may offer some simple options for phytoremediation of soil in the tropics.
The specific details are detailed in a generic way in the following link on the ABC web site :
although more details are on this link, direct to the CRC CARE:
but the potential seems to operate through metal uptake from soils as well as degradation of some hydrocarbon materials.
Napier grass is a fairly common perennial pasture species used in the tropics, particularly in those regions with rain most of the year. Napier grass which is perennial, has a few relatives in the grass genera that are very deep rooted and do grow on poor, dry soils for example – pearl millet, an annual species. It would be interesting to see how these species perform in the tropics.
There are not many plants considered suitable for phytoremediation use in the tropics so another candidate species is very welcome.
Cannot understand why it is being imported into Australia though, unless these characters are very specific to a new cultivar as would have thought the generic plant was readily available in northern Australia. Bana grass [ same species ] is used commonly as a windbreak grass in north Australia, and there is at least one Australian derived cultivar. See the following for more information:
and there is plenty more online.
Vetiver grass [ Chrysopogon zizanoides] also has a reputation as a species with metal accumulation properties, as well as being a great erosion control species and one that will colonise on tough soil conditions. Plenty of information on the web site www.vetiver.org