Eragrostis tenella (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Eragrostis tenella (L.) P. Beauv. ex Roemer & Schultes

Protologue: Syst. Veg. 2: 576 (1817).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= unknown


Poa tenella L. (1753), P. amabilis L. (1753), Eragrostis amabilis (L.) Hook. & Arnott (1840).

Vernacular names

  • Bug's egg grass, Japanese love-grass (En)
  • Indonesia: suket emprit-empritan (Javanese), jukut karukuan (Sundanese), luh-buluhan (Madura)
  • Laos: hnhaaz nhung
  • Thailand: ya harng krarork
  • Vietnam: xuân tha'o min.

Origin and geographic distribution

E. tenella occurs throughout the tropics of the Old World, also in South-East Asia. It has been introduced to tropical America.


E. tenella is grazed by cattle and water buffaloes in traditional feeding systems. It is a weed of minor agricultural importance.


It is regarded as a low quality forage because of its low leaf/stem ratio. The grain is said to be very nutritious.


A small tufted annual grass, with erect or ascendent culms, up to 60 cm tall. Leaf-sheath 2-4 cm long, light purple, hairy at the mouth; ligule a ring of fine soft hairs; leaf-blade narrowly linear with broad base and acute tip, up to 13 cm × 7 mm, glabrous, often tinged purple. Inflorescence a terminal panicle, up to 35 cm long, open, sometimes hairy at the axils, the branches spreading and bearing oblong not sticky yellowish glands; spikelets 4-8-flowered, up to 3.5 mm long, strongly compressed, breaking up from the apex, all flowers bisexual or the upper ones rudimentary; palea-keels ciliate. Caryopsis ellipsoidal, 0.5-0.7 mm long, golden-brown.

Based on the habit of the inflorescence (spreading or more contracted), two botanical varieties have been distinguished.

Seeds of E. tenella germinate very quickly at the beginning of the rainy season. It flowers profusely throughout the year, producing a very small amount of leaf.


E. tenella is common on open waste ground and is adapted to sandy soils from sea-level up to 1400 m altitude. It can be found on old walls, roadsides and dykes, usually in areas with a pronounced dry season.


It is not deliberately sown but spreads naturally by seed. It grows quickly with the onset of the first rains and thus produces green feed early in the season. It can be cut by hand, but as it has a very weak root system farmers normally dig up whole plants and feed them to livestock. Yields are low. It is fed green but could be dried and conserved.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.


It is unlikely that E. tenella will ever be deliberately established as a forage crop.


  • 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. 71-73.
  • Häfliger, E. & Scholz, H., 1981. Grass weeds 2. Ciba-Geigy Ltd., Basel, Switzerland. p. 75.
  • Holm, J., 1971. Feeding tables. Nutrition Laboratory of Thai-German Dairy Project, Livestock Breeding Station, Chiangmai, Thailand.
  • Mehra K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor. p. 17.


C. Manidool