Thysanolaena latifolia (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Thysanolaena latifolia (Roxb. ex Hornem.) Honda

Protologue: Journ. Fac. Sci. Tokyo, Sect. 3. Bot. 3: 312 (1930).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 24


Melica latifolia Roxb. ex Hornem. (1819), Agrostis maxima Roxb. (1820), Thysanolaena maxima (Roxb.) Kuntze (1891).

Vernacular names

  • Tiger grass (En)
  • Indonesia: awis (Sundanese), menjalin wuwu (Javanese), lantebung (Makasar)
  • Malaysia: buloh teberau, rumput buloh
  • Philippines: tambu (Tagalog), gatbo (Bikol), buybuy (Ilokano)
  • Laos: kh'èèm kh'ôông
  • Thailand: tongkong, laolaeng (northern), ya-yung (southern)
  • Vietnam: dót, dông tru[n]g hòa tha'o.

Origin and geographic distribution

Tiger grass occurs from India to Indo-China and China and throughout Malesia. It is also occasionally cultivated outside this region.


Young leaves and stem tips are used to feed cattle and buffaloes. Its large inflorescences are used in making brooms. The grass is occasionally planted for ornamental purposes and as a hedge.


One leaf sample in Thailand had a N concentration of 1.2%. The in vitro DM digestibility of leaves ranged from 40% to 60%.


A strongly tufted, very robust perennial grass with erect or slightly spreading solid bamboo-like culms up to 3.5 m tall. Leaf-sheath hairy along outer margin; ligule a scarious membrane, 1-2 mm long; leaf-blade lanceolate-acuminate, 30-65 cm × 3-7.5 cm, base broad and rounded or subcordate, margins scaberulous, conspicuously glaucous beneath. Inflorescence a terminal huge and drooping panicle, up to 140 cm long, well exserted, branches divided and subdivided into many branchlets; spikelets awnless, short pedicelled, falling with part of the pedicel, often in pairs on a common peduncle, 2-flowered; lower glumes clasping. Caryopsis subglobose to ovoid, 0.6 mm long, reddish-brown.

In light shade seedlings grow slowly at first, but are then able to compete with other low-growing plants. It flowers throughout the year at lower altitudes.


Tiger grass grows from 150-2000 m altitude in valleys and on lightly shaded slopes, in ravines and on river banks. It tends to grow in association with trees (often bamboo forests), solitarily or in small groups, and not in full sunlight.


Tiger grass can be propagated by rhizomes, rooted culms or seeds. It is cultivated for broom making, but not primarily for forage. Weeding is required at the early stage of establishment.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.


More attention should be given to this species as a source of feed for cattle in highland areas.


  • Falvey, F., Pongpiachan, P. & Hengmichai, P., 1981. The quality of native pastures grazed by highland cattle. Thai Journal of Agricultural Science 14: 97-105.
  • 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. p. 45.
  • Holm, J., 1971. Feeding tables. Nutrition Laboratory of Thai-German Dairy Project, Livestock Breeding Station, Chiangmai, Thailand. p. 27.
  • Mehra, K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor, No 31. p. 50.
  • Santos, J.V., 1986. Grasses. In: Umali, R.M., Zamora, P.M., Gotera, R.R. & Jara, R.S. (Editors): Guide to Philippine flora and fauna. Vol. 4. Natural Resources Management Center and University of the Philippines. Manila. p. 127.


C. Manidool