Centotheca latifolia (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Centotheca latifolia (Osbeck) Trinius

Protologue: Fund. Agrost.: 141 (1820).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 24


Holcus latifolius Osbeck (1757), Cenchrus lappaceus L. (1763), Centotheca lappacea (L.) Desv. (1810).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: jukut kidang (Sundanese), suket lorodan (Javanese), karetet lempad (Alfuru)
  • Malaysia: rumput lilit kain, rumput darah, rumput temaga
  • Papua New Guinea: kuang
  • Philippines: baylu-patong (Tagalog), andudukot aridekdiket (Bikol)
  • Thailand: ya khon moi maemai, ya-enieo
  • Vietnam: co' móc.

Origin and geographic distribution

C. latifolia is widely distributed in the tropics of the Old World, from Africa to Polynesia and Australia. It is abundant in southern Thailand and in Peninsular Malaysia.


C. latifolia is grazed by village cattle and regarded as a good fodder.


A perennial rosette grass with erect culms up to 1.25 m tall. Leaf-sheath closely striate, 4-6 cm long; leaf-blade elliptical or ovate-oblong, 4-30 cm × 0.8-3.5 cm, hairy to glabrescent; ligule membraneous, 2-3 mm tall. Inflorescence a branching terminal panicle, up to 40 cm long; spikelets 2-3-flowered, about 8 mm long; lemma of upper floret(s) ca. 3 mm long, 5-nerved with 2 prominent rows of bulbous-based retrorse spiny hairs on either side of the back. Caryopsis about 1 mm long, dark brown, glossy.

Adjacent branches from inflorescences become entangled at maturity because of the reflexed hairs on the lemmas. These hairs also adhere to hair or fur of passing animals, thus providing effective dispersal of the seeds.

Some spikelets seem to be viviparous; the upper lemmas each grow into a small leaf-blade and when the whole spikelet eventually falls, it has the ability to grow into a new plant.

Flowering occurs throughout the year. Often seedlings can be found around older plants.


C. latifolia grows from sea-level to 1500 m altitude in humid shady places receiving over 2000 mm of rain per year. The species is often found on disturbed sites along shaded roads, fields and plantations but is natural in swamps and open places in rain forests and thickets.


C. latifolia is propagated vegetatively or by seed. It is moderately palatable and is usually eaten by grazing stock but can be cut and fed to animals. Animals avoid eating the seed heads. Regrowth is very slow so frequent defoliation is not recommended.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections of C. latifolia are being maintained.


C. latifolia is shade tolerant and should be evaluated for its suitability in agroforestry systems.


  • Bor, N.L., 1960. The grasses of Burma, Ceylon, India and Pakistan. Pergamon Press, London. pp. 457-459.
  • 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. 53-54.
  • Mehra, K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor. No 31. p. 5.
  • Monod de Froideville, Ch., 1971. A synopsis of Centotheca and reduction of Ramosia. Blumea 19: 57-60.


C. Manidool