Microstegium ciliatum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Microstegium ciliatum (Trinius) A. Camus

Protologue: Ann. Soc. Linn. Lyon 68: 201 (1921).
Family: Gramineae
Chromosome number: 2n= 40


Pollinia ciliata Trin. (1832).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: banyonan tembaga (Javanese), jukut canklor (Sundanese)
  • Philippines: bariri magwakat (Han.)
  • Laos: hnhaaz nhung
  • Thailand: ya kom ka.

Origin and geographic distribution

M. ciliatum occurs widely throughout South-East Asia; it is also found in India, Sri Lanka, southern China, Taiwan and Japan.


M. ciliatum is used for cattle and water buffaloes through grazing or cut-and-carry in traditional farm systems.


It is regarded as a good quality forage.


A perennial grass growing in dense masses with branched culms, in lower part prostrate or creeping and rooting at the nodes, in upper part erect or scrambling, up to 2 m tall. Leaf-sheath 4-5 cm long, glabrous to long-hairy; ligule up to 2 mm long, glabrous to densely appressed-hairy at the back, not ciliate; leaf-blade narrowly lanceolate, up to 25 cm × 2.5 cm, narrowed at base and acuminate at apex, glabrous, but hairy near the base. Inflorescence composed of 2-22 subdigitate racemes, each 3-16 cm long; spikelets in alternate pairs, one sessile, one pedicelled, along a flattened axis; spikelets with small callus which has a few stiff setose hairs; lower floret male or neuter; upper lemma with a long kneed and twisted smooth awn of up to 1.5 cm length. Caryopsis oblongoid, 1.5 mm long, brown.

A very variable species. In the Flora of Java this taxon is considered as a complex of 3 species which are separated by the number of racemes ( M. rufispicum (Steud.) A. Camus: normally 2-5; M. ciliatum s.s.: 3-22; M. montanum (Nees) Henrard: 5-12).

M. ciliatum grows slowly out in the open. In shady environments growth continues until September. It flowers from September through the wet season in Thailand.


It is adapted to light shade at altitudes up to 2400 m in high rainfall areas, preferably with 2000 mm per year or more. It is common in rubber plantations, in disturbed and cultivated sites, and in open places and along the margins of rain forests. It grows in patches and its trailing culms scramble over other low herbs. It is said to be able to suppress Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeuschel, hence the name "kom ka" meaning, in Thai, that it weakens Imperata cylindrica .


M. ciliatum is established by rooted stems spaced at 40 cm × 60 cm. Wider spacing allows excessive growth of weeds that interfere with M. ciliatum which is slow to establish. Newly planted stands should be kept weed free. A cutting height of 10-15 cm is recommended as it does not tolerate close defoliation. DM yields of 2 t/ha have been obtained from 4 cuts per year. It is a palatable species and is offered fresh to cattle or buffaloes, but it does not tolerate frequent grazing. It is not conserved.

Genetic resources and breeding

Although it is a variable species, it is unlikely that substantial germplasm collections are being maintained.


M. ciliatum will continue to be an important source of feed in plantations. Research objectives would be to increase its yield and to develop mixtures with legumes.


  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink, R.C., 1968. Flora of Java. Vol. 3. Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. pp. 589-590.
  • 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. 248-249.
  • Manidool, C., 1989. Natural grassland and native grasses of Thailand [in Thai]. Technical Bulletin No 1301-26-32. Division of Animal Nutrition, Department of Livestock Development, Bangkok. pp. 24-25.


C. Manidool