Distribution and Origin. Zoysiagrasses are warm season grasses native to China, Japan and other parts of Southeast Asia. The species was named to commemorate an 18th century Austrian botanist, Karl von Zois. In 1911, Zoysia matrella was introduced into the United States from Manila by a U.S.D.A. botanist, C. V. Piper. Because of its origin the grass was commonly called Manila grass.Piper described the grass as abundant on or near the seashore in the Philippine Islands. When closely clipped, it made a beautiful lawn according to Piper's notes. He suggested that the grass had unusual promise as a lawn grass along the Gulf Coast and Atlantic coast of Florida.Zoysia japonica, sometimes called "Japanese lawn grass" or "Korean lawn grass", is a coarser textured, but more cold hardy species than Zoysia matrella. Zoysia japonica was introduced into the United States in 1895 from the Manchurian Province of China. In the United States, Zoysia japonica could be expected to do very well as far north as Maryland. It is a seeded variety of Zoysia.
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- The third species of Zoysia used for turf is called Korean velvet grass or Mascarene grass, Zoysia tenuifolia. It is a very fine textured species, but is the least cold tolerant of the three species. Zoysia tenuifolia is native to the Far East and was introduced in the U.S. from the Mascarene Islands. In the U.S. it is used in southern California as a low growing ground cover.Description. Zoysiagrasses are sod-forming perennial species that possess both stolons and rhizomes. The grasses turn brown after the first hard frost and are among the first warm season grasses to green up in the spring. The species vary from extremely fine textured to coarse textured types and the leaf blades are very stiff due to a high silica content.Leaves are rolled in the bud shoot. Leaf blades are smooth with occasional hairs near the base, margins are smooth and blades are sharply pointed. Ligule is a fringe of hairs. Auricles are absent. Leaf sheath is round to slightly flattened, split, glabrous, but with a tuft of hair at the throat. Inflorescence is a short, terminal spikelike raceme with spikelets on short appressed pedicels.