E. major (L.) Host.
Stink grass (Australia), grey love grass (Kenya), black grass
(New South Wales).
Erect annual up to 90 cm high with geniculate or erect culms.
Inflorescence a fairly open panicle. The leaf margins, nerves, panicle
branches and lemmas are nearly always dotted with small, dark glands, some
of which are raised, some depressed. Grains are almost spherical (Chippendall
& Crook, 1976).
Native to the Mediterranean region, now widely distributed
throughout the tropics, mainly as a weed. It is a natural dominant in the
annual grasslands of northern Kenya (Bogdan & Pratt, 1967).
Season of growth
Sea-level to 2 250 m in Kenya.
It occurs in rainfall regions down to 250 mm annually in Kenya
but is more common in the 600-700 mm region in Australia.
As a free-seeding annual it escapes drought in a moderately
Number of seeds per kg.
Vigour of growth and growth
It grows quickly and lasts only about three months.
It is not very palatable but is eaten when young by cattle,
horses and sheep. It has a disagreeable odour when fresh. The culms have
a ring of glands below the nodes.
Chemical analysis and
Even rather stemmy herbage can contain 15 percent crude protein
in the dry matter (Bogdan & Pratt, 1967). Dougall and Bogdan (1960)
recorded 15.3 percent crude protein, 29 percent crude fibre, 10.6 percent
ash, 2.4 percent ether extract and 42.7 percent nitrogen free extract from
fresh material in late bloom in Kenya on a dry-matter basis.
Widespread as a weed, especially on poor soils.
Genetics and reproduction
2n=20, 40 (Fedorov, 1974).
Seed production and harvesting
It is an efficient seeder, though the seed is tedious to collect
in large quantities (Bogdan & Pratt, 1967).
Usually this aromatic grass is regarded as a weed and unpalatable
to stock, but it gives early feed. In Lesotho the grains are used in time
of famine for human food (Smith, 1966). The seed is in the form of small,
naked caryopses. One of the pioneer species to appear on denuded land in
semi-arid areas. Bogdan and Pratt (1967) recommended it for seeding the
annual grass zone in rangeland, particularly alluvial soils in Kenya. There
are, however, more palatable grasses, for example Dactyloctenium spp. As
E. cilianensis is a worldwide weed, it is best omitted from seeding programmes.