Brachiaria distachya (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Brachiaria distachya (L.) Stapf


Protologue: Flora of Trop. Africa 9: 565 (1919).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 36

Synonyms

Panicum distachyon L. (1771), Digitaria distachya (L.) Pers. (1805), Urochloa distachya (L.) Nguyen (1966).

Vernacular names

  • Green summer grass (En)
  • Indonesia: blembem, kadalan, blabakan (Java)
  • Malaysia: rumput minyak, rumput melera minyak
  • Philippines: gome-gome, tanageb
  • Thailand: yateenka
  • Vietnam: co' mât.

Origin and geographic distribution

B. distachya originates and occurs from the Indian subcontinent throughout South-East Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Uses

B. distachya is used primarily as forage. In coastal sand dunes it acts as a soil-binder.

Properties

Results from Thailand have shown that 8-week-old growth of B. distachya had 65% digestible DM and low N concentrations of 1.5% at 4 weeks and 0.9% at 12 weeks.

Botany

Creeping annual; stems up to 50 cm tall, ascending from a prostrate base, on the soil surface rooting at the nodes. Leaf broadly linear to narrowly lanceolate, 2-8 cm × 3-7 mm; sheath keeled, up to 3 cm long, hairy at the margin when young. Inflorescence consisting of 2-3 racemes on an axis 0.5-2 cm long; racemes 1-3 cm long with spikelets attached singly on either side of the median ridge of the rachis; spikelets narrowly elliptic, 2.5-3 mm long, glabrous, acute; lower glume _-½ as long as the spikelet, clasping; upper glume separated from the lower by a short internode; upper lemma rugulose. Caryopsis flattened ovoid, 1.6 mm long, light yellow.

B. distachya commences flowering early in the growing season and then flowers continuously throughout the year, but little seed is set. B. distachya much resembles B. subquadripara (Trin.) Hitchc., with which it is sometimes united. The range of spikelet length seems to be disjunct (2.5-3 mm and 3.3-3.7 mm respectively), thus also justifying the maintenance of two species.

Ecology

B. distachya is adapted to humid tropical lowlands. It can grow under light shady conditions such as occur in old coconut plantations or orchards. It is often found in small patches along forest edges and waste places where it is freely grazed by village cattle. It does not tolerate waterlogging but is well adapted to sandy loam soils.

Agronomy

B. distachya is vegetatively propagated through division of root stocks. It is very palatable and light grazing is preferred. Yields of 3 t/ha of DM without fertilizer and 9 t/ha with mixed fertilizer have been obtained in southern Thailand.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that any substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.

Prospects

B. distachya is an interesting natural forage grass in South-East Asia, deserving more attention because of its high palatability and its tolerance of light shade and poor soils.

Literature

  • 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. pp. 176-178.
  • Holm, J., 1971. Feeding tables. Nutrition Laboratory of Thai-German Dairy Project, Livestock Breeding Station, Chiangmai, Thailand. pp. 9-10.
  • Kotepat, W. & Sookasem P., 1989. Effects of cow dung and chemical fertilizer on the yields and nutritive values of Brachiaria distachya on Banthon soils [in Thai]. 1987-89 Research Report. Lampang Animal Nutrition Research Center, Department of Livestock, Bangkok. 42 pp.

Authors

C. Manidool