Miscanthus junceus (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
List of species

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Miscanthus junceus (Stapf) Pilg.

Protologue: Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 2, 14: 113 (1940).
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)


  • Miscanthidium gossweileri Stapf (1917),
  • Miscanthidium teretifolium (Stapf) Stapf (1917),
  • Miscanthus teretifolius (Stapf) Pilg. (1940).

Vernacular names

  • Wireleaf Daba grass (En).

Origin and geographic distribution

Miscanthus junceus is distributed from DR Congo southward through southern Africa to Swaziland and South Africa.


The stems are harvested for thatching and making fences. The leaves are generally too coarse for grazing.

Production and international trade

Miscanthus junceus is only used and traded locally.


Perennial, tufted grass with stems 1–3 m tall. Leaves alternate; ligule a ciliolate membrane; blade terete, 50–100 cm long, 1–3 mm in diameter, apex acuminate, midvein a slender yellow line on the adaxial surface. Inflorescence a linear to narrowly ovate panicle 20–50 cm long, bearing numerous racemes 2–8 cm long, with a tough, slender rachis. Spikelets in pairs, similar, pedicelled, lanceolate to narrowly oblong, 3–5 mm long, falling entire, 2-flowered; callus white-bearded, beard c. ¼ the length of the spikelet; lower glume oblong, as long as the spikelet, papery, 5-veined, surface flat, villous, apex 2-fid; upper glume lanceolate, 5-veined, surface villous, apex acute; basal floret sterile, without significant palea, lemma oblong, slightly shorter than spikelet, hyaline, 1-veined; upper floret bisexual, palea absent or minute, lemma lanceolate, 1–2 mm long, hyaline, 1-veined, margins ciliolate, apex 2-fid, with a geniculate awn 2–10 mm long, lodicules 2, stamens 3, ovary 1-locular, stigmas 2. Fruit a caryopsis (grain).

In southern Africa Miscanthus junceus flowers in November–June.

Miscanthus is classified in the Andropogoneae. It comprises c. 20 species distributed in Africa and South-East Asia. On the basis of evidence from DNA analyses, it has been proposed to combine Miscanthus junceus with several other Miscanthus, Saccharum, Miscanthidium and an Eryanthus species into Miscanthidium. Miscanthus junceus would then become Miscanthidium teretifolium (Stapf) Stapf.


Miscanthus junceus always occurs in or near water, on riverbanks or in dambos or marshes, mostly in coarse sandy soils at 700–1400 m altitude. In the Okavango delta it is the most common grass in permanent water. Also in the North-Eastern Sandy Highveld in Mpumalanga (South Africa) it is dominant in shallow-water vegetation. The species plays an important role in riverbank protection and water purification.


Miscanthus junceus only grows wild.

Genetic resources

As Miscanthus junceus is widespread and locally dominant it is not in danger of genetic erosion.


Miscanthus junceus is likely to remain of local importance as a source of material for thatching and fencing. Research into its potential as a plant for water purification and riverbank protection seems warranted.

Major references

  • Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H., 2002–. GrassBase - the online world grass flora. [Internet] Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom.http://www.kew.org/ data/grasses-db/. May 2011.
  • Cope, T.A., 2002. Gramineae, tribe Andropogoneae. In: Pope, G.V. & Martins, E.S. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 190 pp.
  • van Oudtshoorn, F., 1999. Guide to grasses of Southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 288 pp.
  • van Wyk, B.E. & Gericke, N., 2000. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 351 pp.

Other references

  • Bonyongo, M.C., Bredenkamp, G.J. & Veenendaal, E., 2000. Floodplain vegetation in the Nxaraga lagoon area, Okavango delta, Botswana. South African Journal of Botany 66: 15–21.
  • Burgoyne, P.M., Bredenkamp, G.J. & van Rooyen, N., 2000. Wetland vegetation in the North Eastern Sandy Highveld, Mpumalanga, South Africa. Bothalia 30(2): 187–200.
  • Ellery, W.N., McCarthy, T.S. & Smith, N.D., 2003. Vegetation, hydrology, and sedimentation patterns on the major distributary system of the Okavango Fan, Botswana. Wetlands 23(2): 357–375.
  • Hodkinson, T.R., Chase, M.W., Lledo, M.D., Salamin, N. & Renvoize, S.A., 2002. Phylogenetics of Miscanthus, Saccharum and related genera (Saccharinae, Andropogoneae, Poaceae) based on DNA sequences from ITS nuclear ribosomal DNA and plastid trnL intron and trnL-F intergenic spacers. Journal of Plant Research 115(5): 381–392.
  • Ibaragi, Y., 2004. Miscanthidium junceum subsp. teretifolium (Poaceae); a new combination for an African grass. Journal of Phytogeography and Taxonomy 52: 175–178.
  • Missouri Botanical Garden, undated. VAST (VAScular Tropicos) nomenclatural database. [Internet] http://mobot.mobot.org/ W3T/Search/ vast.html. May 2011.


  • 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. Miscanthus junceus (Stapf) Pilg. [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 3 March 2020.