Urelytrum giganteum (PROTA)
Urelytrum giganteum Pilg.
- Protologue: Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 34: 125 (1904).
- Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
- Rhytachne gigantea Stapf (1908),
- Urelytrum thyrsioides Stapf. (1917).
Origin and geographic distribution
Urelytrum giganteum is distributed from Nigeria eastward to Sudan and southward to DR Congo, Angola and Uganda.
In Nigeria the stems are used for making mats. In the Central African Republic they are used as low-quality arrow-shafts. In Nigeria the grass serves as fodder.
Production and international trade
Urelytrum giganteum is only used and traded locally.
Perennial, robust, tufted grass; stems up to 4 m tall, up to 7 cm in diameter at the base. Leaves alternate; sheath tight, slightly rough, finely striate, glabrous; ligule 2–3 mm long, truncate, membranous; blade 30–100 cm × 10–25 mm, margin rough. Inflorescence terminal, composed of 20–50 pedunculate racemes, each 10–25 cm long and borne in whorls on a central rachis 15–30 cm long; rachis fragile at the nodes; internodes glabrous. Spikelets in pairs, 1 sessile and 1 pedicelled; sessile spikelet fertile, 2-flowered, lanceolate, 5–6 mm long, falling entire with accessory branch structures, callus oblong, 0.5 mm long, lower glume elliptical, 5–6 mm long, smooth and glabrous except for the apical, spinulose keel, bluntly acute, upper glume ovate, chartaceous, keeled, 3-veined, lower floret male, with palea and oblong, hyaline lemma, upper floret bisexual, lemma lanceolate, hyaline, without keel, apex acute, palea hyaline, stamens 3, ovary glabrous, with free styles and 2 red stigmas; pedicelled spikelet sterile, elliptical, 4–5 mm long, persistent, glumes coriaceous, one glume with 7–15 mm long awn. Fruit an oblong caryopsis (grain).
Urelytrum comprises c. 10 species and is distributed in tropical Africa (including Madagascar) and South Africa. Urelytrum digitatum K.Schum. (synonym: Urelytrum fasciculatum C.E.Hubb.) is a perennial, tufted grass with stems up to 2 m tall, distributed from northern Nigeria, Cameroon and the Central African Republic southward through DR Congo, Uganda and Tanzania to Malawi, Zambia and Angola. On the Mambila Plateau in Nigeria the stems are used for making mats. Urelytrum muricatum C.E.Hubb. is a perennial, tufted grass with erect stems up to 2.5 m tall, distributed from Senegal eastward to northern Nigeria. In Bimbila (northern Ghana) the grass is lightly grazed, but probably only when better forage is lacking, because the stems are said to be bitter and are generally not taken. The stem is tough and has potential to be made into rope. In traditional medicine in Nigeria the bark is used against threatening miscarriage and bleeding. The bark has shown weak antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Proteus mirabilis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
Urelytrum giganteum occurs up to 1300 m altitude in wet and swampy places in savanna regions.
Urelytrum giganteum is only collected from the wild.
Urelytrum giganteum is widespread and not intensively harvested. It is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Urelytrum giganteum is likely to remain of incidental, local use only.
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- Hubbard, C.E., 1949. Notes on African Grasses: XXIII. Kew Bulletin 4(3): 341–376.
- Robyns, W., 1929. Flore agrostologique du Congo Belge et du Ruanda–Urundi. Tome 1 : Maydées et Andropogonées. Goemaere, Brussels, Belgium. 229 pp.
- Stapf, O., 1917–1934. Gramineae. In: Prain, D. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 9. L. Reeve & Co., Ashford, United Kingdom. 1100 pp.
- 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.
- 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. Urelytrum giganteum 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 8 March 2020.
- See the Prota4U database.