Afrotrilepis pilosa (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Afrotrilepis pilosa (Boeck.) J.Raynal


Protologue: Adansonia, sér. 2, 3: 258 (1963).
Family: Cyperaceae

Synonyms

  • Trilepis pilosa Boeck. (1875),
  • Eriospora pilosa (Boeck.) Benth. (1881),
  • Catagyna pilosa (Boeck.) Hutch. (1936).

Vernacular names

  • Devil grass (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Afrotrilepis pilosa is distributed from Senegal to Gabon.

Uses

The leaves are used for thatching huts in Guinea and northern Sierra Leone.

Botany

Perennial, robust, tufted herb up to 80 cm tall, with often erect or ascending, trunk-like rhizome, forming mats; stem up to 60 cm long, 2–4 mm in diameter, triangular in cross section. Leaves arranged spirally, inserted in the lower part of the stem; sheath closed over its whole length, with a small triangular tongue opposite the blade, the tongue with an obtuse apex and ciliate margin; blade linear, 10–40 cm × 3–10 mm, apex acuminate, margin ciliate. Inflorescence a terminal, lax panicle 15–30 cm × 3–10 cm, with tiers of whorls, the lower one subtended by a short leafy bract, each whorl with 4–10 partial inflorescences; partial inflorescences dense, obconical to almost globular, c. 5 mm × 4.5 mm, usually pale or reddish brown, consisting of several male spikelets topped with several bisexual ones. Spikelets 2-flowered, with 2 male flowers or with 1 lower female flower and 1 upper male flower, seldom with 2 female flowers, glumes ovate, 3–3.5 mm long, apex acuminate and mucronate, reddish brown; flowers unisexual, 1–2 mm long, female flowers with superior ovary and 3 stigmas. Fruit a nutlet c. 3.5 mm long, 3-angled, red-brown, with numerous white bristles c. 2 mm long, 1-seeded.

Afrotrilepis pilosa is a poikilohydric plant, which means that it desiccates and remains dormant when its environment dries out, but rehydrates when water becomes available again.

Afrotrilepis comprises only 2 species, distributed in north-western Africa.

Ecology

Afrotrilepis pilosa occurs on granite and gneiss outcrops (inselbergs). It can grow into a kind of mat covering bare rocks and locations cleared by erosion, felling or fire, leaving only little space for other species to become established. These almost monospecific mats may become several-hundreds year old. Afrotrilepis pilosa mats covering granite outcrops in Sierra Leone are recorded to be up to 2.5 m thick. The plant is resistant to bush fires.

Genetic resources

Afrotrilepis pilosa is fairly widely distributed, but occurring in specific habitats. There are no records of it being threatened with genetic erosion.

Prospects

Afrotrilepis pilosa is only recorded to be used locally for thatching, and its importance is unlikely to increase.

Major references

  • Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
  • Haines, R.W. & Lye, K.A., 1983. The sedges and rushes of East Africa: a flora of the families Juncaceae and Cyperaceae in East Africa – with a particular reference to Uganda. East African Natural History Society, Nairobi, Kenya. 404 pp.
  • Parmentier, I., 2003. Study of the vegetation composition in three inselbergs from continental Equatorial Guinea (western Central Africa): effects of site, soil factors and position relative to forest fringe. Belgian Journal of Botany 136(1): 63–72.
  • Porembski, S., Brown, G. & Barthlott, W., 1996. A species-poor tropical sedge community: Afrotrilepis pilosa mats on inselbergs in West Africa. Nordic Journal of Botany 16(3): 239–245.
  • Simpson, D.A. & Inglis, C.A., 2001. Cyperaceae of economic, ethnobotanical and horticultural importance: a checklist. Kew Bulletin 56(2): 257–360.

Other references

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.
  • Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
  • Clarke, C.B., 1901–1902. Cyperaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 8. Lovell Reeve & Co., London, United Kingdom. pp. 266–524.
  • Hambler, D.J., 1961. A poikilohydrous, poikilochlorophyllous angiosperm from Africa. Nature 191: 1415–1416.
  • Hooper, S.S. & Napper, D.M., 1972. Cyperaceae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 3. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 278–348.
  • Nelmes, E. & Baldwin, J.T. Jr., 1952. Cyperaceae in Liberia. American Journal of Botany 39(6): 368–393.
  • Scholz, H. & Scholz, U., 1983. Flore descriptive des Cypéracées et Graminées du Togo. J. Cramer, Vaduz, Liechtenstein. 360 pp.

Sources of illustration

  • Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (Editors), 2006. Flore analytique du Bénin. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. 1034 pp.

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., 2011. Afrotrilepis pilosa (Boeck.) J.Raynal. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp>.

Accessed 27 February 2019.