Eragrostis nindensis (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
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Eragrostis nindensis Ficalho & Hiern


Protologue: Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot. 2: 32 (1881).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Chromosome number:

Synonyms

  • Eragrostis denudata Hack. (1895).

Vernacular names

  • Perennial lovegrass, wether lovegrass (En).
  • Eragrostis vivace (Fr).

Origin and geographic distribution

Eragrostis nindensis is distributed from DR Congo and Tanzania southwards to South Africa.

Uses

In Namibia the grain of Eragrostis nindensis is eaten. Eragrostis nindensis is a palatable pasture grass and is well utilized by sheep in particular. The young leaves are sucked to treat colds.

Description

  • Perennial, tufted grass up to 90 cm tall, with a short oblique rhizome; stem (culm) erect, unbranched, glabrous at the nodes.
  • Leaves alternate, simple, mainly forming a basal tuft; leaf sheath glabrous or with straight silky hairs, terete; ligule a line of hairs; blade linear, 5–30 cm × 2–3 mm, involute, rarely flat.
  • Inflorescence a panicle 5–20 cm long, ovoid with stiffly spreading primary branches, or narrowly lanceolate and densely contracted, or linear and interrupted with the spikelets in clusters on stubby side branches, the primary branches not in whorls, terminating in a fertile spikelet.
  • Spikelet almost sessile, ovate to narrowly oblong, strongly laterally compressed, 4–20 mm × 1.5–4 mm, 7–30-flowered, dark yellowish green to dull grey, with bisexual florets; glumes almost equal, ovate, 1–2 mm long, keeled, glabrous, apex acute; lemma ovate, 2–3.5 mm long, keeled, leathery, apex acute to acuminate; palea oblong-elliptical, glabrous on the sides; stamens 3, anthers 1–1.5 mm long; ovary superior, with 2 stigmas.
  • Fruit an ellipsoid caryopsis (grain) 1–1.5 mm long.

Other botanical information

Eragrostis is a large and taxonomically complex genus comprising more than 350 species mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. Eragrostis nindensis is a polymorphic species, varying widely in the shape of the inflorescence and spikelet.

In southern Africa Eragrostis nindensis flowers from October to June. It is a so-called ‘resurrection plant’, able to survive near-complete desiccation of its tissues. It retains mobile water in its leaves even when dried naturally to less than 20% water content. It also disassembles chloroplasts when too dry to maintain photosynthesis to avoid light-induced oxidative stress. Young seedlings, however, are sensitive to drought.

Ecology

Eragrostis nindensis is found in bare, exposed or disturbed locations at 600–2400 m altitude, often on moist sandy and stony soils and on granite outcrops.

Management

Eragrostis nindensis is collected from the wild.

Genetic resources

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, holds 3 accessions of Eragrostis nindensis.

Prospects

The role of Eragrostis nindensis as a food or fodder plant will remain limited, although its ability to survive in dry conditions offers some prospect in semi-arid and arid regions.

Major references

  • Clayton, W.D., Phillips, S.M. & Renvoize, S.A., 1974. Gramineae (part 2). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 273 pp.
  • Cope, T., 1999. Gramineae (Arundineae, Eragrostideae, Leptureae and Cynodonteae). In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 261 pp.
  • 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.
  • Klaassen, E.S. & Craven, P., 2003. Checklist of grasses in Namibia. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No 20. SABONET, Pretoria, South Africa. 130 pp.
  • van Oudtshoorn, F., 1999. Guide to grasses of Southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 288 pp.

Other references

  • Balsamo, R.A., vander Willigen, C., Boyko, W. & Farrant, J., 2005. Retention of mobile water during dehydration in the dessiccation-tolerant grass Eragrostis nindensis. Physiologia Plantarum 124(3): 336–342.
  • USDA, ARS & National Genetic Resources Program, 2001. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN). [Internet] National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland, United States. http://www.ars-grin.gov/. April 2005.
  • Mundree, S.G., Baker, B., Mowla, S., Peters, S., Marais, S., vander Willigen, C., Govender, K., Maredza, A., Muyanga, S., Farrant, J.M. & Thomson, J.A., 2002. Physiological and molecular insights into drought tolerance. African Journal of Biotechnology 1(2): 28–38.
  • vander Willigen, C., Pammenter, N.W., Jaffer, M.A., Mundree, S.G. & Farrant, J.M., 2003. An ultrastructural study using anhydrous fixation of Eragrostis nindensis, a resurrection grass with both desiccation-tolerant and -sensitive tissues. Functional Plant Biology 30(3): 281–290.

Author(s)

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

Correct citation of this article

Brink, M., 2006. Eragrostis nindensis Ficalho & Hiern. In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 4 December 2022.