Chrysopogon aucheri (Boiss.) Stapf var. quinqueplumis (A. Rich.) Stapf

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Graminae

Common names

Aucher's grass (Kenya).

Description

Tufted perennial up to 50 cm high with slender, wiry culms. Panicle spreading, with orange-haired spikelets in triads on slender peduncles; sessile spikelets 5-6 mm long with a geniculate awn from the lemma and a straight plumose bristle from the upper glume; pedicelled spikelets green, about as long as the sessile ones, with a plumose bristle from each glume (Napper, 1965). It forms low cushions.

Distribution

Afghanistan, Pakistan (Sind, Baluchistan), Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda.

Season of growth

Summer.

Altitude range

Sea-level to 2 000 m.

Rainfall requirements

This grass will grow in rainfalls of 250 mm to 625 mm a year.

Drought tolerance

Excellent, extending into the low-rainfall, annual-grass, semi- desert area of northern Kenya (Bogdan & Pratt, 1967).

Soil requirements

It prefers sandy soils or lava ash, but grows on rocky ground as well.

Sowing time and rate

Summer at 2.5 kg/ha.

Number of seeds per kg.

About 450 000 pure seeds.

Dry-matter and green-matter yields

It has not been tested for these details.

Cultivars

None have been registered. An unusually large form from Karpeddo, Baringo, is bulk-seeded at Marigat, Kenya.

Optimum temperature for growth

Probably about 30-35°C.

Frost tolerance

It probably has little frost tolerance.

Latitudinal limits

About 30°N to 10°S latitude.

Palatability

It is a leafy grass, highly palatable to animals.

Natural habitat

Dry, gravelly, often rather alkaline soils with grass or semi-desert cover.

Genetics and reproduction

2n=40 (Fedorov, 1974).

Seed production and harvesting

It is a poor seeder and this is accentuated by shedding of the ripe spikelets. The "seed" consists of a raceme with three spikelets, only one of them with a caryopsis (Bogdan & Pratt, 1967).

Economics

It is an important grazing grass in arid regions. It is the dominant grass growing on aridisols high in gypsum in Somalia, and is important in the arid rangeland in Kenya, and in dry areas of Uganda.

Animal production

It is a leafy grass of high nutritive value, well liked by grazing animals.

Further reading

Bogdan & Pratt, 1967.

Tolerance to salinity

Occurs on dry, gravelly, often rather alkaline soils.