having the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful lawn without the
hassles of constant watering, fertilizing and mowing. This dream
can become a reality with the inedible perennial peanut.
perennial peanut (Arachis Glabrata) originated in South America.
It is a member of the same classification group as the eating
peanut (Arachis hypogaea) and is a true perennial because it
survives from year to year without replanting.
peanut produced a thick mat of low-growing greenery, which makes
for a very attractive lawn," said Dr. Edwin C. French,
University of Florida Associate Professor. "And the best
part is it doesn't require a lot of mowing, fertilizing or watering."
starters, the perennial peanut requires less maintenance than
traditional grasses such as Bermuda and St. Augustine because
it is a legume. Legumes require no nitrogen fertilizer applications
because of their association with nitrogen-fixing rhizobium
bacteria. Also, the perennial peanut is a very drought-tolerant
has been demonstrated in a number of instances in Florida. A
perennial peanut lawn was maintained without fertilizers, pesticides
or irrigation and remained in good condition for the six years
following its establishment in Gainesville, FL. In another instance,
the perennial peanut has endured as a highway beautification
program for 30 years, receiving only normal mowing.
perennial peanut has a lot of potential for stabilizing roadsides
and providing an aesthetic value for roads," French said.
first planted, the perennial peanut developed rhizomes. Rhizomes,
an underground system of modified stems, are the perennial peanut's
survival mechanism. This underground growth allows dead top-growth
to be replaced by green shoots after the end of a dry spell.
compared low-growing types of perennial peanut such as Ecoturf
and Arblick against St. Augustine grass. The studies, which
began in the early 1980s, compared the performance, water use
and maintenance requirements of the plants.
study found that less water was required for Arblick and Ecoturf
to maintain a superior wilt and color score compared to St.
perennial peanut remained healthy without insect control, irrigation
or applied nitrogen. The St. Augustine grass required chinch
bug control, irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer in order to
maintain a healthy appearance.
peanuts used signifigantly less water than St. Augustine grass.
maintenance costs for perennial peanut are one-third that of
St. Augustine sod," said Tom Cunilio, president of the
Center for Sustainable Agroforestry, Inc. (COSAF). This is because
perennial peanut utilizes available water for growth and storage.
soil water isn't available, the plant maintains itself by using
its extensive rhizome system to conserve moisture from a large
volume of soil. St. Augustine grass mines a smaller area of
soil compared to perennial peanuts, resulting in faster wilting.
perennial peanut can be established now easier than ever with
the use of a clay "chip", which was developed by COSAF.
The chip allows the perennial peanut to be transplanted easily
and affordably," Cunilio said. "It assures greater
survival for the perennial peanut because of the fertilizer
in the clay."
calls the "chip" an idiot proof system to develop
a perennial peanut lawn in about two years.