Eleusine jaegeri Pilg.

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Graminae

Common names

Manyatta grass, mafutiana (Kenya), akirma (Ethiopia).

Description

Densely tufted perennial 120-150 cm high with compressed branching culms. Inflorescence of up to ten dark grey spikes on a short axis about 6 cm long. The leaves are stiff, up to 60 cm long with sharp edges. The inflorescence consists of three to seven stiff, one-sided, greyish-green spikes, up to 15 cm long, arising from the top 5-8 cm of the stem. The spikelets are numerous and densely crowded along the underside of the spike. They are 6 mm long and consist of four to five florets (Ivens, 1967).

Distribution

Throughout tropical and southern Africa, in highlands of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia.

Altitude range

2 000-3 000 m. It occurs at 2 600 m on the rim of Empakai Crater in the Ngorongoro Highlands and on the south rim at an elevation of 2 970 m in Tanzania.

Rainfall requirements

The 19-year average at Ngorongoro Crater is 900 mm per year. It requires a rainfall in excess of 625 mm.

Tolerance to herbicides

Dalapon at 5 and 10 kg AI/ha and glyphosate (Roundup) at 4 kg AI/ha applied in water at a volume rate of 300 litres per hectare with an Oxford Precision Sprayer operating at a pressure of 2.1 kg/cm2 with size "O" fan-jet nozzles, at midday in warm, sunny, dry, windless conditions reduced Eleusine populations within 24 hours. Dalapon at 5 kg AI/ha following cutting and removing the cuttings was the cheapest and most effective. This also encourages forage species. Apply only to Pennisetum clandestinum grassland.

Palatability

It is avoided by stock.

Natural habitat

Tussock grassland or open forest at altitudes above 2 300 m in East Africa.

Economics

Widely used for making baskets in Ethiopia (Westphal, 1975). It is a frequent invader of such highland pastures in East Africa as Kikuyu or Themeda triandra where grazing is too intensive to permit occasional burning (Ivens, 1967). Common in old cattle bomas.

Further reading

Ivens, 1967.

Eradication

Destumping by cutting out individual plants and removing them is the most effective mechanical control with lesser beneficial results from cutting and removing and cutting and burning the Eleusine.

Chemical analysis

Dougall and Bogdan (1960) recorded 10.5 percent crude protein, 34.8 percent crude fibre, 6 percent ash, 2.4 percent ether extract and 46.3 percent nitrogen-free extract from fresh material at early bloom stage in Kenya on a dry- matter basis.