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The lovegrass genus (Eragrostis) of the Poaceae (grass family) is the namesake of the tribe Eragrostideae. It would remain therein as long as this group remains valid after revision of the Chloridoideae, even if other genera presently placed in the Eragrostideae are moved elsewhere.
Some are dispersed by passing animals; the grains' hooks latch on to fur or hair, or to clothes. Others are wind or gravity dispersed. Several herbivores feed on lovegrass, be it invertebrates – e.g. Lepidoptera caterpillars such as those of the Zabulon Skipper (Poanes zabulon) – or vertebrates, such as the extinct Bluebuck (Hippotragus leucophaeus). The dense bunches of these grasses also provide cover for small animals such as the rare Botteri's Sparrow (Aimophila botterii); lovegrasses may be ground cover of key importance on oceanic islands like Laysan, where other plants are rare.
They can be used as livestock fodder, the seeds appear to be of extremely high nutritional value at least in some species, but they are also extremely tiny and collecting them for food is cumbersome and not usually done. A notable exception is Teff (Eragrostis tef), used to make most of the traditional breads of the Horn of Africa: Ethiopian injera and Somalian laxoox, and grown as a crop of commercial importance. E. clelandii and E. tremula are recorded as famine foods in Australia and Chad, respectively.
Other species, e.g. E. amabilis, are used as ornamental plants. E. cynosuroides is used in the pūjā rites in the Hindu temble at Karighatta. Bahia Lovegrass (E. bahiensis) is known as a hyperaccumulator of Caesium-137 and can be grown to remove these highly toxic and radioactive atoms from the environment. Weeping lovegrass (E. curvula) has been planted extensively to combat soil erosion.
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