Leptochloa chinensis (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Leptochloa chinensis (L.) Nees

Protologue: Syll. Ratisb. 1: 4 (1824).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 40


Poa chinensis L. (1753).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: timunan (Javanese), bebontengan (Sundanese), jangkiri (Flores)
  • Philippines: palay-maya (Tagalog), karukauáyan (Bikol)
  • Thailand: ya-yonhu, ya-dokkhao (central), ya-metnga (northeast)
  • Vietnam: cò duói phung.

Origin and geographic distribution

L. chinensis originated in tropical Asia and is distributed throughout South-East Asia, Burma, Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, Australia and from East to South Africa.


L. chinensis is used as fodder. Normally it is regarded as a weed in paddy fields but livestock owners collect and feed it to their animals. In East Africa the grain is used as famine food.


It is highly palatable and very leafy, but there is no information on its nutritive value.


An aquatic or semi-aquatic tufted annual or perennial, with stout to slender, erect or geniculate culms up to 1.5 m tall, often rooting at the lower nodes. Leaf-sheath loose, subglaucous, smooth, up to 10 cm long; ligule a fringed, hairy membrane, 1-2 mm long; leaf-blade linear, up to 50 cm × 1 cm, long-attenuate, flat or folded, scabrid above. Inflorescence 10-60 cm long, composed of numerous slender racemes scattered along an elongate central axis; racemes flexuous, 2-13 cm long, erect or laxly ascending; spikelets 3-7 flowered, narrowly elliptical-oblong, 2-3 mm, subsessile, often purplish, disarticulating above the glumes and between the florets; glumes unequal, scabrid on the back of the nerves; lemmas hairy on the nerves, awnless. Caryopsis ellipsoid-oblongoid, 6-9 mm long, brown, smooth or wrinkled.

L. chinensis is an abundant seed producer. The seedlings develop quickly so that they can keep pace with the rising level of flood water and thus survive. It flowers over most of the year.

The related, more widely spread L. panicea (Retzius) Ohwi ( L. polystachya Benth. sensu Burkill) is eaten by cattle when young. It differs by the longer leaf-sheaths (up to 13.5 cm), the papillate-pilose hairs on the leaves and the 2-5-flowered spikelets. L. panicea much resembles the American L. filiformis (Lamk) P. Beauv.


L. chinensis grows from near sea-level up to 1400 m altitude. It is adapted to moist, swampy places in open habitats, especially if disturbed, on heavy or light soils.


L. chinensis is propagated by seed or by rooted tillers. Adequate soil moisture is the main factor affecting the growth of this aquatic plant, although it has been observed that improved soil fertility in rice fields also results in better growth.

It is harvested by cutting forage above the water level in paddy fields or by grazing.

No yield data are available, but in open waste places it should give reasonable yields. It can make good hay but when cut it is normally collected and fed green to livestock.

Genetic resources and breeding

It is unlikely that any germplasm collections are being maintained.


L. chinensis will continue to be a useful supplementary feed source in lowland areas.


  • 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. 73-75.
  • Häfliger, E. & Scholz, H., 1981. Grass weeds 2. Ciba-Geigy Ltd., Basel, Switzerland. p. 94.
  • Mehra, K.L. & Fachrurozi, Z., 1985. Indonesian economic plant resources: forage crops. Lembaga Biologi Nasional - LIPI, Bogor, No 31. p. 24.
  • Soerjani, M., Kostermans, A.J.G.H., Tjitrosoepomo, G., 1987. Weeds of rice in Indonesia. Balai Pustaka No 3521, Jakarta. pp. 446-447.


C. Manidool