Digitaria cruciata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Digitaria cruciata (Nees ex Steudel) A. Camus

Family: Gramineae


  • Panicum cruciatum Nees ex Steudel,
  • Paspalum sanguinale Lamk var. cruciatum J.D. Hooker.

Vernacular names

  • Raishan (En, India)
  • Vietnam: tú chình chéo.


Himalaya region, Khasi Hills in Assam (India), southern China and northern Vietnam (possibly also in northern Burma (Myanmar)). Cultivated on a small scale in the Khasi Hills.


The grain is eaten as a cereal and its glutinous flour is used to make bread or porridge. It is sometimes mixed with rice or other cereals. Fresh and dried wild plants and the straw of the cultivated types are an important all-season forage, much relished by cattle.


  • Annual grass with prostrate to decumbent, branched culms rooting at the nodes, up to 130 cm long but usually much shorter.
  • Leaf blade linear, up to 21 cm × 1 cm, scabrid, glabrous to hairy.
  • Inflorescence consisting of 2-10 racemes arranged paired or subwhorled on a central axis 1-4 cm long; racemes up to 18 cm long, reflexed at maturity; spikelet ellipsoidal, about 3 mm × 1 mm, pale or purplish pale, consisting of two florets, the lower one sterile and the upper one bisexual.
  • Caryopsis tightly enclosed by the chartaceous lemma and palea.

The wild form (var. cruciata) is common and widespread throughout the mountain area in open sites between 2000-3000 m altitude. The cultivated form (var. esculenta Bor, preferably classified as cv. group Esculenta) has much longer racemes and the grain does not shatter easily; it is only cultivated in the Khasi Hills of Assam (in 1952 about 40 ha). It is intercropped with maize or vegetables or as a secondary crop following Irish potato. It has a growth cycle of about 4 months. About 1 month before harvesting the culms are tied together. At harvest the grains are rubbed off by hand, dried and stored. Grain yield is about 800 kg/ha. To prepare the grain for food the amount required is dried over a fire, pounded in a mortar and winnowed.

D. compacta Veldkamp, which has similar uses, also occurs in the same area.

Selected sources

2, 3, 6, 14, 16, 20, 25, 32, 34, 36.


H.N. van der Hoek & P.C.M. Jansen