Panicum kalaharense (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Panicum kalaharense Mez


Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 57: 187 (1921).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Chromosome number:

Origin and geographic distribution

Panicum kalaharense is distributed in Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.

Uses

The grain of Panicum kalaharense is eaten by the Wambo people in Namibia. Panicum kalaharense is also a pasture grass.

Properties

As a pasture grass Panicum kalaharense is recorded as being moderately palatable when young.

Description

  • Robust, perennial grass up to 2.5 m tall, tufted or with a short rootstock; stem (culm) pubescent at base.
  • Leaves alternate, simple and entire; leaf sheath densely hairy along margins in upper part; blade linear, 20–50 cm × 2–8 mm, acuminate, flat or rolled, tough, upper surface densely covered with short hairs.
  • Inflorescence a broadly ovoid panicle 15–27 cm long, moderately to much branched.
  • Spikelet ovoid, 3–4 mm long, 2-flowered; lower glume broadly ovate, half to two-thirds the length of the spikelet, acute or acuminate, 3–5-veined, upper glume 5–9-veined; lower floret male, lemma 7–9-veined, palea well-developed, upper floret female, lemma and palea pale or dark, glossy; stamens 3; ovary superior, stigmas 2.
  • Fruit a caryopsis (grain), ellipsoid, compressed.

Other botanical information

Panicum comprises about 470 species and is mainly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, with some species extending to temperate regions. Panicum kalaharense follows the C4-cycle photosynthetic pathway.

Ecology

Panicum kalaharense is considered to be drought resistant. It is locally common in grassland and savanna habitats on sandy soils in areas with an annual rainfall of 300–600 mm, at 500–1200 m altitude. It is also found in disturbed locations such as roadsides.

Management

The grain of Panicum kalaharense is collected from the wild.

Genetic resources

A small collection of 3 accessions of Panicum kalaharense is held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Prospects

Panicum kalaharense is an unimportant local source of food and forage, and will probably remain so. Little is known about this species and more information would be useful, particularly on its food and fodder quality.

Major references

  • Clayton, W.D., 1989. Gramineae (Paniceae, Isachneae and Arundinelleae). In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 3. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. 231 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.
  • Launert, E., 1970. Gramineae. Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika. No 160. J. Cramer, Germany. 228 pp.

Other references

  • 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.
  • Schulze, E.-D., Ellis, R., Schulze, W., Trimborn, P. & Ziegler, H., 1996. Diversity, metabolic types and delta13C carbon isotope ratios in the grass flora of Namibia in relation to growth form, precipitation and habitat conditions. Oecologia 106: 352–369.

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. Panicum kalaharense Mez. In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 27 November 2022.