Common names (selected): English: airport grass, feather finger grass, peacock plumegrass, plush grass, purple top, purpletop chloris, swollen fingergrass, swollen windmill grass; Chinese: 孟仁草; German: Bärtiges Gilbgras; Hawaiian: mau'u lei; Indonesian: rumput jejarongan, suket cakar ayam; Philippines: banuko, korokorosan; Spanish: pata de gallina (Cuba), zacate borrego
Description: Annual or short-lived perennial grass
Native regions and distribution: C. barbata is believed to be native to tropical South-East Asia and South America but is now widespread worldwide at low altitudes throughout the tropics, including in north Africa, Macaronesia, temperate Asia, Arabia, China, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Taiwan. It is also presently found in the U.S. in Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas.
Urban habitat: It is found in dryland field crops, pastures, sugarcane, wastelands, abandoned cultivation, railway embankments, roadsides, borders of plantation crops and on levees in lowland rice fields. It tends to be saline tolerant and is common in desert pans and littoral areas and on the fringes of salt meadows and mangrove swamps. As an agricultural weed, C. barbata is common in sugarcane, tree crops (papayas, macadamia nuts, coffee), and in tobacco in the Philippines and Thailand.
Ecological function: Food for insects
History/human uses: Medicinal uses around the world use of C. barbata include to treat rheumatism, while juice from the plant is used as an antibacterial and antimicrobial to treat skin disorders. The species is also said to possess anti-diabetic properties. The purplish, feathery-looking spikes are used in hat leis in Hawaii.