Cynodon dactylon (Family- Poaceae) – Bermuda grass
|The other names for this grass are Arugampul (name in Tamil, India), Bahama Grass, Bermuda Grass (United States), Couch Grass (Australia), Devil’s Grass, Dog’s Tooth Grass, Dub(name in Hindi, India) , dūrvā grass (name in Sanskrit, India), Garike hullu (name in Kannada, India), Grama, Indian Doab, Kabuta (Fiji), Karuka (name in Malayalam, India), Quick grass (South Africa), and Scutch Grass.|
The business was brisk. The morning walkers and joggers on the seaside road thronged the road side vendor for a cup of Arugumpul ( the name in Tamil language for Bermuda grass) juice. When asked why they drink that juice daily, the replies were varied. Cynodon dactylon has been studied at many research centres in India for its many medicinal properties including antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It is sweet, palatable, cool and nutritious. The whole plant is medicinal according to the Hindu Medical God, Dhanvantari who gave to the world the science of Ayurveda. The plant is medicinal when used both externally and internally. When the plant extract is taken internally it relieves the bad effects due to phlegm and excessive bile juice. It stops bleeding, increases amount of urine excretion and checks dysentery. This plant also serves as medicine for treatment of skin diseases, diabetes, urinary tract infections, blood disorders, prostatitis and syphilis. In Siddha system of medicine, arugampul is used to detoxify the body.
It mitigates the thirst and burning sensation in the body. There is a story in Hindu Mythology to sustantiate this claim. When the pot bellied God Ganesa swallowed the demon Anlasuran who was creating havoc in the world, God Ganesa suffered a burning sensation in the stomach. He was offered this durva grass (name in Sanskrit language) by saint Kashyap. God Ganesa ate this grass and was relieved of the burning sensation. The practice of offering this grass in prayers to please the God began from that time onwards.
It is a popular turf grass highly desired in sports fields and lawns for decorative purposes. It grows easily in warm climates all over the world. It grows on the ground forming s dense mat. The branches on ground level creep and root at every node. The roots penetrate in the soil deep so that one cannot uproot the plant easily. During unfavourable periods the above ground parts of plants may turn brown , but on the advent of favourable season they become green once again. The leaf blades are grayish green in colour with rough edges and the small flowers are in spikes.
This drought tolerant grass grows quickly and can withstand heavy grazing. It grows well on wide range of soils and can withstand fires and flooding too. As the plant grows it forms a dense mat and binds soil against erosion.
This grass probably originated in India. This is considered very sacred and is offered to Gods in prayers. It is believed that elephant headed God, Lord Ganesa is pleased when this grass is offered to Him in prayers and grants devotees’ wishes. In some tribes in North India this grass is used in every important occasions like child birth and wedding. As this grass symbolizes purity, prosperity and fertility the same is given as wedding gift to the bride when she leaves her parents’ home to the house of her husband. To sanctify the house after a calamity water is sprinkled with the help of bunch this grass in all four corners of the house.
In astrology all the 27 stars and nine planets are assigned different plants. To lessen the bad effects of the shadow planet Rahu in one’s horoscope ‘Durva Bhasma’ (ash of the grass) is used.
This is considered a nuisance in agricultural fields as a weed.