Elymandra androphila (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Elymandra androphila (Stapf) Stapf

Protologue: Oliv., Fl. Trop. Afr. 9(3): 408 (1919).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Chromosome number: 2n = 20


  • Andropogon androphilus Stapf (1881).

Origin and geographic distribution

Elymandra androphila occurs widely dispersed in West Africa from Senegal eastward to Cameroon and the Central African Republic, and extending southwards through the Congo basin to Angola.


In Sierra Leone the stems of Elymandra androphila are valued for thatching, considered second best only to those of Danthoniopsis chevalieri A.Camus & C.E.Hubb. Elymandra androphila is also a good forage grass.

Production and international trade

Elymandra androphila is only used and traded locally.


Perennial, coarse, tufted grass; stems erect, up to 2.5 m tall and up to 5 mm in diameter, glabrous, yellow, with black roots from lower nodes, branched from upper nodes. Leaves alternate; sheath glabrous, long-hairy along the margins near the apex; ligule membranous, truncate, 1–2 mm long, pale brown, minutely ciliolate on the margin, flanked on either side by tufts of long white hairs from the base of the blade; blade linear, up to 60 cm × 9 mm, flat or folded, tapering to a fine point, harshly scabrid on the upper surface and margins, glabrous, glaucous. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary, narrow, lax, compound false panicle up to 60 cm long, composed of racemes; spatheole linear, up to 10 cm long, tightly rolled around peduncle, green, glabrous; peduncle filiform, yellow, scabrid or puberulous near the tip; racemes 2, paired, 2–3 cm long, 2-awned per pair, densely packed with spikelets; raceme-bases glabrous, the lower 1–2 mm long, the upper 15–25 mm long. Spikelets in pairs, one sessile and fertile, one pedicelled and sterile; at the base of each raceme (2–)5–7(–9) homogamous pairs of spikelets; homogamous spikelets narrowly lanceolate, 6–8 mm long, acute to acuminate, glabrous; pedicels and internodes glabrescent, ultimately disarticulating between each pair and falling with the spikelets attached; sessile spikelet linear-oblong, 7–10 mm long (including callus), callus 2–3 mm long, pungent, bearded with white hairs, lower glume elliptical, upper glume lanceolate and acute, rarely with an awn up to 3 mm long, lower floret reduced to hyaline lemma, upper floret bisexual, fertile lemma 5 mm long with awn (5.5–)7(–9) cm long, the column densely puberulous, palea absent or minute, stigmas 2; pedicelled spikelet narrowly lanceolate, 7–11 mm long, pedicel 6–10 mm long (excluding callus) and glabrous, the tip acuminate and often with a short bristle, callus oblong, 1–1.5 mm long, obliquely truncate at the base. Fruit a caryopsis.

Elymandra is a genus classified in the Andropogoneae, comprising 6 species with a centre of diversity in West Africa, and extending southward and eastward to Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.


Elymandra androphila is a grass of poor sandy soils in uncultivated guinean and sudanese savanna, occurring up to 2000 m altitude in the Bamenda highlands in western Cameroon. It occurs typically on plateaus and stony hillsides, but also on shallow soils over ironstone pans and on lower slopes. It is affected by grazing: in a Borassus aethiopum Mart. palm savanna on ferruginous soil in Côte d’Ivoire the proportion of Elymandra androphila in the vegetation on ungrazed plateau land was 19%, and on grazed land only 5%; at the bottom of slopes the proportions were 23% and 12%, respectively.


Elymandra androphila only occurs wild.

Genetic resources

As Elymandra androphila is widespread and common, it is not in danger of genetic erosion.


Elymandra androphila is likely to remain a source of thatch of local importance and a valuable forage component in natural grasslands.

Major references

  • Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
  • Clayton, W.D., 1966. Studies in the Gramineae. XI. Kew Bulletin 20(2): 287–293.
  • Clayton, W.D., 1972. Gramineae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, part 2. pp. 277–574.
  • Poilecot, P., 1995. Les Poaceae de Côte d’Ivoire. Manuel illustré d’identification des espèces. Boissera 50: 1–734.
  • van der Zon, A.P.M., 1992. Graminées du Cameroun. Volume 2, Flore. Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 92–1. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands. 557 pp.

Other references

  • Boudet, G., 1963. Pâturages et plantes fourragères en République de Côte d’Ivoire. Institut d’Elevage et de Médicine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons-Alfort, France. 102 pp.
  • César, J., 1975. Evolutionary trends of some vegetational formations under the influence of grazing in the Guinean Savannah of the Ivory Coast. [Internet] In: Evaluation and mapping of tropical African rangelands. Proceedings of a seminar held in Bamako, Mali on 3–8 March 1975. International Livestock Centre for Africa, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Internet. May 2011.
  • Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H., 2002–. GrassBase - the online world grass flora. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. Internet. May 2011.
  • Kammacher, P., Anoma, G., Adjanohoun, E. & Aké Assi, L., 1973. Nombres chromosomiques de Graminées de Côte d’Ivoire. Candollea 28(2): 191–217.
  • Kindomihou, V., Sinsin, B. & Meerts, P., 2006. Effect of defoliation on silica accumulation in five tropical fodder grass species in Benin. Belgian Journal of Botany 139(1): 87–102.


  • L.P.A. Oyen, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Oyen, L.P.A., 2011. Elymandra androphila (Stapf) Stapf. [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 20 November 2020.