Bolboschoenus maritimus (PROTA)
|Geographic coverage Africa|
|Geographic coverage World|
|Cereal / pulse|
|Carbohydrate / starch|
Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla
- Protologue: Syn. Deut. Schweiz. Fl., ed. 3, 3: 2531 (1904).
- Family: Cyperaceae
- Chromosome number: n = 49, 52, 54, 55, 2n = 96, 104, 110.
- Scirpus maritimus L. (1753),
- Schoenoplectus maritimus (L.) Lye (1971).
- Sea club-rush, saltmarsh club-rush, saltmarsh bulrush, alkali bulrush, cosmopolitan bulrush, bayonet grass (En).
- Scirpe maritime, souchet maritime (Fr).
- Junco da praia (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Bolboschoenus maritimus is widely distributed in the tropical, subtropical and temperate regions of the world. It served as food in prehistoric times already and has been found in excavations dating from before 5000 BC.
In Ethiopia the stems are used for thatching. In Somalia they are used in locust bait. In India the seeds are eaten raw or they are pounded, made into flour and mixed with millet. The rhizome is edible as well. In traditional medicine in Korea the tuber is used for the treatment of tumours and vaginal indurations. Bolboschoenus maritimus is planted as an ornamental in or near ponds. It can be used in the creation and rehabilitation of wetlands. It helps to control erosion by its roots stabilizing soil and the whole plant providing protection against wind and waves.
The fruit contains 6% protein and 2.4% oil. An ethanolic extract of the seed has shown in-vivo activity against P-388 lymphocytic leukaemia in mice. The most active compound was piceatannol, which is also known to have antifungal and ichthyotoxic properties. The extract also contained viniferin, known to have antifungal properties, and resveratrol, known to have antiplatelet aggregation, coronary vasodilator, antileukaemic, antifungal and protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitory activities. The aerial parts contain an alkaloid.
Perennial, spreading herb with long, hard stolons or rhizomes ending in tubers or stems; stems up to 150 cm tall, 1–10 mm in diameter, sharply 3-angled, filled with pith or hollow, lower half covered with leaf sheaths. Leaves in 3 vertical ranks; sheath with 4 mm long v-shaped opening (throat), pale green; ligule absent; blade linear, flat, 10–40(–50) cm × 2–10 mm, acuminate at the apex, glabrous or with scabrid margins and midvein. Inflorescence a terminal anthela with clusters of spikelets on branches of unequal length, main branches usually 0.5–3 cm long, secondary branches rare, total number of spikelets up to 50; involucral bracts many, largest ones leaf-like, 8–18 cm long, erect or spreading. Spikelets sessile, ovoid, ellipsoid or almost cylindrical, 5–50 mm × 2–10 mm, often somewhat curved, golden brown to dark brown, many-flowered; glumes imbricate, ovate or elliptical, 3–8 mm long, toothed or emarginate at the apex, margin and surface with minute hairs, 1–3-veined; flowers bisexual, perianth of 3–6 needle-like bristles, stamens 3, anthers 3–4 mm long, ovary superior, 1-locular, stigmas (2–)3. Fruit an obovate nutlet 1–3 mm × 1.5–2.5 mm, 3-angled, without raised papillae, almost smooth, shiny, from grey-green to dark brown to black, 1-seeded.
Bolboschoenus comprises 6–16 species, widely distributed in tropical, subtropical and temperate regions. It is sometimes considered a subgenus of Scirpus or Schoenoplectus. Species delimitation in the genus is rather confused, and the genus is in need of revision.
In Senegal Bolboschoenus maritimus flowers in (July–)August–October(–November). The fruits are dispersed by water currents and birds. Bolboschoenus maritimus follows the C4-cycle photosynthetic pathway.
Bolboschoenus maritimus occurs from sea-level up to 1800 m altitude in saline pools and marshes and seasonally wet, saline grassland. It can also grow under non-saline conditions. The plant tolerates almost total submersion in water and the rhizome survives dry periods by remaining dormant. Bolboschoenus maritimus is an important weed in agricultural fields and waterways, often occurring in wet rice fields. In Australia its import is prohibited.
Plants can be propagated with seeds or by rhizome division. The 1000-seed weight is 1.2–3.3 g. Germination is optimal at day-time temperatures of 25–35°C and night-time temperatures of about 5°C lower. Germination takes 1–2 weeks. Planted rhizome pieces usually sprout in about 5 days.
As a weed in rice-producing areas of Asia Bolboschoenus maritimus is controlled with integrated weed management schemes, including rotation of crops, application of water regimes, and chemical and cultural methods.
As Bolboschoenus maritimus is distributed worldwide and common, also as a weed in cultivated land, it is not threatened with genetic erosion.
Bolboschoenus maritimus is a very widely distributed plant, which, however, is only occasionally used in tropical Africa. Care should be taken in planting this species, because it is an important weed in rice and other crops.
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- M. Brink, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Correct citation of this article
Brink, M., 2011. Bolboschoenus maritimus (L.) Palla. [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 6 March 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.