Botanically Durba grass is referred to as Cynodon dactylon and it belongs to the borge species. One can find this type of grass everywhere, especially in dams or marshy fields. The average height of Durba grass is around 2 feet. The threesome blades adorning the top of Durba grass is its most unique feature. Along with Tulsi and Bael, Durba grass is also considered sacred in Hindu religion and is grown by almost every devout Hindu in his/her courtyard.
Other than Cynodon dactylon, there are two more scientific names of Durba grass, and these are –
Panicum dactylon and
While, its common names include –
Dog’s tooth grass,
It should be noted that Scutch grass is widely found in Asia, Australia, north and east Africa, and southern Europe. Although, it has not found its origins in Bermuda, the plant is grown here in abundance. From Bermuda, the plant is presumed to have found its way towards North America, resulting in its common name.
The blades of the grass are grey-green in color and are short, usually 2–15 cm long with rough edges. The erect stems can grow 1–30 cm tall. The stems are quite flattened and often purplish. A bunch of seed heads (2 to 6 spikes) are found on the tip of the stem. Ideally, each spike is around 2-5 cm in length.
In normal conditions, the root mass is only 60 cm beneath the soil. However, the plant is draught resistant, and during water scarcity the roots can extend over 2 meters deep in an ideal penetrable soil.
The grass roots itself, forming a dense mat, when the nodes come in contact with the ground. Thus, it seems like the grass is creeping along the ground. Durba grass or Cynodon dactylon is reproduced easily through its runners, seeds and rhizomes. The ideal temperature for the growth of Durba grass is 15 °C or 59 °F. Finest quality grass grows between 24 and 37 °C, i.e. 75 and 99 °F. For optimum growth, the grass requires abundant sunlight; fully or partially shaded locations are not quite suitable for its healthy growth.
The Hybrid Variety
It should be noted that a hybrid variety of Cynodon dactylon has been reported life threatening in certain cases. A variety named ‘Tifton 85’ (hybrid form), just like other grasses such as sorghum, has led to many livestock deaths.
Unfortunately, not all global corners have been fully informed and warned against such deadly exposures. In fact, this typically bred F1 hybrid has often been misreported as ‘genetically modified strain’ in many places.
Durba in Hinduism
Durba grass is a leading puja item in Hindu rituals; especially in Yagna ceremonies, this grass is amongst the main offerings to the gods. Hindu mythology has also made the mention of Durba grass in several epics and other texts.
The priest (Pujari) invokes this grass and makes a ring which he wears round his finger throughout the course of the religious rites. Ritualistically, the ring made of the grass is ought to be worn before starting of the homa — offerings to fire — and puja.
The grass is believed to have a purifying effect on participants. Grass is also used as an offering in Ganesha temples.
There are various controversies amongst the scholars about the origins of Durba grass. As per the famous legend, Durba grass was created when the gods and the evils were busy churning the mountain Mandara for extracting Amrita (nectar), and thereby attaining immortality.
Another legend states that when the gods in the heaven were drinking Amrita (nectar), few drops form the nectar fell on the grass on earth, forming the Durba grass. This legend made Durba grass very sacred, making its way towards all the auspicious ceremonies of the Hindus.