Chrysopogon aciculatus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Chrysopogon aciculatus (Retzius) Trinius

Protologue: Fund. Agrost.: 188 (1820).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 20


Andropogon aciculatus Retzius (1789).

Vernacular names

  • Love grass (En). Amorseco (Sp)
  • Indonesia: salohot (Batak), jukut domdoman (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: temuchut, kemuchut, kemunchup
  • Philippines: marisekos (Tagalog), amorseko (Visaya), pangrot (Bikol)
  • Cambodia: smau kântraëy
  • Thailand: ya-chaochu, ya-khikhrok (central), ya-khitroei (south)
  • Vietnam: co'may, co'bông.

Origin and geographic distribution

C. aciculatus originates from tropical Asia, Australia and Polynesia and is very abundant in all South-East Asian countries. It has been introduced to other parts of the tropics, e.g. West and Central Africa.


C. aciculatus is used for grazing, as a lawn grass, and for control of soil erosion. However, it can annoy humans and livestock due to its prickly spikelets that stick to and penetrate clothing or skin. The culms are used to make brushes and to weave small cases.


The leaves are highly palatable, but the abundant flowering culms and spikelets have low palatability. No data on nutritive value are available.


A perennial, spreading, stoloniferous, mat-forming grass. Culms solid, glabrous, erect or creeping, up to 75 cm tall, often branching, rooting at all nodes when creeping. Leaf-sheath glabrous, often pierced by roots; ligule membranous, truncate, very short; leaves 2-20 cm × 4-8 mm; leaf-blades on creeping culms ovate-lanceolate, short, pressed flat against soil; leaf-blades on flowering culms more linear. Inflorescence a rigidly erect panicle, 5-12 cm long, composed of several whorls of short reddish branches which gradually spread horizontally when ripe, each branch bearing at its end a group of 3 spikelets, each group with 1 bisexual sessile and 2 male or neuter pedicelled spikelets; sessile spikelet with at base a pointed callus, 4-6 mm long, which is bearded with short yellowish-brown hairs on one side and at top an awn 2-8 mm long. Caryopsis yellowish-brown, 2-3 mm long.

At maturity the callus at the base of a sessile spikelet separates from the supporting branch near its base and the sharp free tip easily catches on passing animals or humans. This tip penetrates clothing or hairy skins and is difficult to remove owing to the stiff appressed hairs. The fruit may work its way into the flesh, causing extensive ulceration.

C. aciculatus spreads and forms a firm mat over the ground, starting to flower within 6-8 weeks after establishment. It flowers throughout the year.


C. aciculatus can grow from sea-level to 1500 m altitude. It is adapted to moderately dry to humid environments and to sandy loamy soils of pH 5-6. It is frequently found in overgrazed areas, resisting trampling. It cannot withstand prolonged dry periods. It is a vigourous colonizer of denuded ground and tends to dominate with regular burning.


C. aciculatus is propagated by seed or rooting tillers. The bristles on the spikelets adhere to the hair of livestock and provide an effective method of seed dispersal. Close grazing is necessary to keep it in a young growth stage. Cutting is not practised for forage production. When used as a lawn grass, it should be mown frequently to keep it green and free of inflorescences. It is a low-yielding species.

Genetic resources and breeding

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


The main use of C. aciculatus is as a naturally occurring grass for livestock, and as a control against soil erosion. In improved pastures it is often considered as a noxious weed.


  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink, R.C., 1968. Flora of Java. Vol. 3. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. pp. 603-604.
  • 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. 236-237.
  • Mehra, K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor, No 31. p. 7.
  • Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F., 1990. Tropical grasses. FAO, Rome. pp. 296-297.


C. Manidool