Dactyloctenium aegyptium (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
Introduction
List of species


Dactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) Willd.


Protologue: Enum. Pl. Horti Berol.: 1029 (1809) (" aegyptiacum ").
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 20, 36, 48

Synonyms

Cynosurus aegyptius L. (1753), Eleusine aegyptia (L.) Desf. (1798).

Vernacular names

  • Crowfoot grass (East Africa), coast button grass (Australia) (En)
  • Indonesia: tapak jalak (Sundanese), suket dringoan (Javanese), rebha kartuut (Madura)
  • Malaysia: rumput miuyak
  • Philippines: krus-krusan (Tagalog), damong-balang (Visaya), tugot-manok (Ilokano)
  • Burma: didok-chi, myet-le-gra, mye-sa myet
  • Thailand: ya-pakkhwai (central)
  • Vietnam: co' chân gà, co chi.

Origin and geographic distribution

D. aegyptium is widely distributed throughout the tropics, subtropics, and warm temperate regions of the Old World. It has been introduced to America.

Uses

D. aegyptium is widely used as forage and is relished by all types of ruminants. Although a valuable forage, it can also be a troublesome weed of cultivation. It makes excellent hay. In times of scarcity it is used as a food grain.

Properties

Nitrogen concentrations in D. aegyptium range from 1.2%-2.5%, depending on the stage of growth and soil fertility. It contains high levels of HCN at some stages of its growth. The grain is said to have an unpleasant taste and to cause internal disorders in humans.

Botany

Slender to robust spreading annual, up to 1 m tall, usually geniculately ascending and rooting at the lower nodes, frequently shortly stoloniferous and mat-forming. Leaf-sheath up to 4 cm long, glabrous, compressed; leaf-blade flat, 3-25 cm × 0.25-1.2 cm, with bulbous-based hairs, especially along the margins; ligule a narrow fimbriate membrane. Inflorescence composed of up to 9 spikes up to 6.5 cm long, ascending or often radiating horizontally from the top of the culm; spikelets 3-4-flowered, flattened, 3-4 mm long, in 2 alternate rows at the underside of a flattened rachis; glumes subequal, the lower one with a scabrid keel, the upper with a smooth keel extending into a stout divergent scabrid awn up to 2 times as long as the glume; lemmas ending in a stout cusp or mucro 1 mm long. Caryopsis broadly obovate to obtriangular in outline, ca. 1 mm long, transversely rugose, orange-brown.

The inflorescence is similar to that of Eleusine Gaertn. It can be distinguished by its awned upper glume, its 2-ranked spikelets, and by its stoloniferous habit.

D. aegyptium flowers early in the rainy season and seeds profusely; it is an exceedingly variable grass.

Ecology

D. aegyptium can grow from sea-level up to 2100 m altitude and in areas receiving 400-1500 mm rainfall annually. It is adapted to a wide range of soil types but is particularly well suited to disturbed areas on light-textured soils. It will not stand prolonged flooding.

Agronomy

D. aegyptium is established by surface sowing at 0.25 kg/ha. It grows very vigorously and can be cut or grazed early in the growing season. In grazed areas it can be top dressed with N fertilizer after its first grazing to stimulate regrowth. It can be cut as a fodder and fed fresh to livestock and it also makes excellent hay. Farmers normally dig up whole plants when weeding and feed these fresh to their livestock. A DM yield of at least 3 t/ha per season can be expected in unfertilized open fields on loamy sand soils.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.

Prospects

D. aegyptium is a valuable native forage. Studies should be carried out on its agronomy, nutritive value and grazing management.

Literature

  • Department of Livestock Development, 1986. Report on feed analysis [in Thai]. Technical Bulletin No 13-0116-29. Division of Animal Nutrition, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok.
  • 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. 81-82.
  • Holm, J., 1971. Feeding tables. Nutrition Laboratory of Thai-German Dairy Project, Livestock Breeding Station, Chiangmai, Thailand.
  • Holm, L.G., Plucknett, D.L., Pancho, J.V. & Herberger, J.P., 1977. The world's worst weeds: distribution and biology. The East-West Center, University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. pp. 244-248.
  • Skerman, P.J. & Riveros, F., 1990. Tropical grasses. FAO, Rome. pp. 322-324.

Authors

C. Manidool