Echinochloa colona (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Echinochloa colona (L.) Link

Protologue: Hort. Berol. 2: 209 (1833).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 36, 48, 54, 72


Panicum colonum L. (1759). Echinochloa crus-galli P. Beauv. ssp. colona (L.) Honda (1923). The specific epithet is also spelled "colonum" .

Vernacular names

  • Jungle rice, awnless barnyard grass (En)
  • Indonesia: rumput jajagoan kecil (Sundanese, Javanese), rumput bebek (Indonesian), tuton (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: padi burung, rumput kusa-kusa
  • Philippines: pulang-puwit (Tagalog), guinga (Visaya), dakayang (Ilokano)
  • Burma: myet-thi, pazun-sa-myet
  • Laos: khauz nôk
  • Thailand: ya noksichomphu (central), ya-nokkhao (northeast)
  • Vietnam: co' lô[n]g vu'c.

Origin and geographic distribution

E. colona is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics, including South-East Asia.


E. colona is used as forage and is grazed by all kinds of stock. During famines, the seeds are eaten by humans. In rice fields, jungle rice can be a serious problem because the young plants closely resemble young rice plants. It can also be a weed in other crops.


Nitrogen concentrations of E. colona range from 1.0-2.5%, depending on the growth stage.


A tufted annual grass with erect or ascending culms up to 1 m tall, often rooting at the lower nodes. Leaf-sheath 3-4 cm long, glabrous, often reddish; ligule absent; leaf-blade linear-acuminate, 5-30 cm × 2-8 mm, sometimes marked with purple bars. Inflorescence up to 15 cm long, composed of 3-10 short racemes up to 3 cm long; racemes neatly 4-rowed, simple, commonly half their length apart and appressed to the axis but sometimes subverticillate and spreading; spikelets numerous, ovate-elliptical to subglobose, 1.5-3 mm long, pubescent; lower floret male or barren, acute to cuspidate; upper lemma 2-3 mm long, sharply pointed. Caryopsis ellipsoid to subglobose.

The absence of a ligule, the purplish-tinged leaves and the neatly 4-rowed racemes are characteristic of this species. Less constant are the awnless soft indumented spikelets - some forms tend to intergrade with E. crus-galli (L.) P. Beauv. which has awned spikelets.

E. colona is a fast growing grass. Seeds germinate quickly with the onset of the first rains and it can cover other cultivated forages in the first few weeks. Axillary shoots develop during the second week after emergence. It flowers throughout the year, commencing 3-4 weeks after emergence, and seeds abundantly.


E. colona grows in swampy places in environments receiving from 400 to 1200 mm rainfall per year and at altitudes ranging from sea-level to 2000 m. It is adapted to full sunlight or partial shade and grows on loam, silt and clay soils, but it does not tolerate dry periods.


E. colona is established by seeds or rooted tillers. It requires high soil moisture levels to get good establishment. It is very palatable, even when flowering. Light stocking rates and long intervals between grazing are recommended. It can be cut 3 to 4 times during the wet season when flower heads are in full bloom. The common practice in many countries of South-East Asia is to remove whole plants out of rice fields where it is regarded as a weed. The collected material is then fed to the ruminants. It can be conserved as hay but will take several days to dry as it is very succulent.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.


E. colona is a valuable grass. Selection could be made to obtain accessions that produce higher yields when grown on upland soils as these soils are easier to work than the swampy or lowland areas.


  • Department of Livestock Development, 1986. Report on feed analysis [in Thai]. Technical Bulletin No 13-0116-29. Division of Animal Nutrition, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok.
  • Gilliland, H.B., Holttum, R.E. & Bor, N.L., 1971. Grasses of Malaya. In: Burkill, H.M. (Editor): Flora of Malaya. Vol. 3. Government Printing Office, Singapore. pp. 167-168.
  • Häfliger, E. & Scholz, H., 1980. Grass weeds 1. Ciba-Geigy Ltd., Basel, Switzerland. p. 54.
  • Mehra, K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor, No 31. p. 14
  • Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F., 1990. Tropical grasses. FAO, Rome. pp. 370-372.


C. Manidool