Oryza punctata (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Oryza punctata Kotschy ex Steud.

Protologue: Syn. pl. glumac. 1(1): 3 (1853).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Chromosome number: 2n = 24, 48

Vernacular names

  • Red rice, wadi rice (En).
  • Mchetez (Sw).

Origin and geographic distribution

Oryza punctata is distributed in tropical Africa from Côte d’Ivoire to Sudan and southwards to Angola, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Madagascar. It also occurs in South Africa and Thailand.


The husked grains of Oryza punctata are sometimes eaten as a famine food in Sudan and Kenya. In Sudan they are consumed after boiling with milk or water.


Per 100 g dry matter the grain of Oryza punctata from Sudan contains: crude protein 13.9 g, fat 4.0 g, soluble carbohydrate 74.8 g, crude fibre 2.9 g, Ca 40 mg, Mg 270 mg, P 550 mg, Fe 16.8 mg and Zn 3.9 mg. The essential amino acid composition per 100 g protein (16 g N) is: lysine 3.6 g, methionine 2.2 g, phenylalanine 5.2 g, threonine 3.4 g, valine 5.9 g, leucine 8.6 g and isoleucine 4.1 g (Salih & Nour, 1992).


  • Annual or perennial grass 50–120(–150) cm tall, growing in tufts; stem (culm) erect or geniculately ascending, branched, striate, glabrous.
  • Leaves alternate, simple and entire; leaf sheath often spongy, distinctly striate; ligule 3–10 mm long, rounded, truncate or somewhat acute; blade linear, 15–45 cm × 0.5–2.5 cm, acuminate, pale green or rarely glaucous, glabrous, usually slightly rough on both surfaces.
  • Inflorescence a terminal panicle 15–35 cm × 3–17 cm, loose, erect or somewhat drooping, with spreading or ascending branches.
  • Spikelet asymmetrically elliptical-oblong or broadly oblong, (5–)5.5–6.5 mm long, deciduous, greyish green or glaucous, 3-flowered but 2 lowest florets reduced to sterile lemmas 1–1.5 mm long; glumes reduced to a membranous, whitish narrow rim; lemma of fertile floret slightly shorter than spikelet, boat-shaped, leathery, hairy or rarely glabrous, with pale yellow slender flexuous awn (1–)2–7.5 cm long; palea slightly shorter than lemma and much narrower, acute or tapering into a short point; lodicules 2; stamens 6; ovary superior, with 2 plumose blackish stigmas.
  • Fruit an oblong caryopsis (grain) 4–5 mm long, glabrous, pale brown.

Other botanical information

Oryza comprises about 20 wild species distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics, and 2 cultivated species, Oryza sativa L. and Oryza glaberrima Steud. Oryza punctata is classified in ser. Latifoliae.

Within Oryza punctata diploid (2n = 24) and tetraploid (2n = 48) plants are known. Oryza punctata can be crossed with Oryza sativa using embryo rescue techniques.


Oryza punctata is found in swampy locations, on stream banks, in pond margins and pools, up to 1200 m altitude. It is a noxious weed in rice cultivation and a potential seed contaminant of rice cultivars.


Oryza punctata is collected from the wild. The 1000-seed weight is about 25 g. Husking requires vigorous pounding, resulting in the grain being seldom whole when eaten.

Genetic resources

Oryza punctata is considered a source of resistance to various diseases and pests affecting Oryza sativa, including bacterial leaf blight (Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae) and brown planthopper (Nilaparvata lugens).


Although the grains of Oryza punctata have a good nutritional quality, they seem to be used as a famine food only, and the plant is considered a noxious weed in rice cultivation. Oryza punctata may be useful in Oryza sativa breeding, although it is genetically more distant than Oryza barthii A.Chev. and Oryza longistaminata A.Chev. & Roehr.

Major references

  • Hanelt, P. & Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (Editors), 2001. Mansfeld’s encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops (except ornamentals). 1st English edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 3645 pp.
  • Kaushal, P. & Ravi, 1998. Crossability of wild species of Oryza with Oryza sativa cvs PR 106 and Pusa Basmati 1 for transfer of bacterial leaf blight resistance through interspecific hybridization. Journal of Agricultural Science 130(4): 423–430.
  • Launert, E., 1971. Gramineae (Bambuseae - Pappophoreae). In: Fernandes, A., Launert, E. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 1. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. 152 pp.
  • National Research Council, 1996. Lost crops of Africa. Volume 1: grains. National Academy Press, Washington D.C., United States. 383 pp.
  • Salih, O.M. & Nour, A.M., 1992. Nutritional quality of uncultivated cereal grains utilised as famine foods in western Sudan as measured by chemical analysis. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 58: 417–424.

Other references

  • Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
  • Clayton, W.D., 1970. Gramineae (part 1). In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 176 pp.
  • Clayton, W.D., 1972. Gramineae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, part 2. pp. 277–574.
  • Gibbs Russell, G.E., Watson, L., Koekemoer, M., Smook, L., Barker, N.P., Anderson, H.M. & Dallwitz, M.J., 1990. Grasses of Southern Africa: an identification manual with keys, descriptions, distributions, classification and automated identification and information retrieval from computerized data. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No 58. National Botanic Gardens / Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. 437 pp.
  • Lu, B.R., 1999. Taxonomy of the genus Oryza (Poaceae): historical perspective and current status. International Rice Research Notes 24: 4–8.
  • Mahmoud, M.A., Khidir, M.O., Khalifa, M.A., Bashir el Amadi, A.M., Musnad, H.A.R. & Mohamed, E.T.I., 1995. Sudan: Country Report to the FAO International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (Leipzig 1996). Khartoum, Sudan. 86 pp.
  • Smith, C.W. & Dilday, R.H., 2003. Rice: origin, history, technology, and production. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New Jersey, United States. 642 pp.
  • Vaughan, D.A. & Chang, T.-T., 1992. In situ conservation of rice genetic resources. Economic Botany 46(4): 368–383.


  • M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Brink, M., 2006. Oryza punctata Kotschy ex Steud. In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 26 September 2023.