Dactyloctenium Willd., Enum. Hort. Berol. 1029. 1809. Boiss., Fl. Or. 5:556. 1884; Blatter & McCann, Bombay Grasses 262. 1935; Bor, Fl. Assam 5:110. 1940; Sultan & Stewart, Grasses W. Pak. 2:250. 1959; Bor, Grasses Burma Ceyl. Ind. Pak. 488. 1960; Bor in Towns., Guest & Al-Rawi, Fl. Iraq 9:426. 1968; Bor in Rech.f., Fl. Iran. 70: 439. 1970; Hansen in Tutin et al., Fl. Eur. 5:259. 1980.
Tufted or stoloniferous annuals or perennials. Leaf-blades linear, flat or loosely folded; ligule membranous, truncate, often ciliolate. Inflorescence digitate, composed of several linear to narrowly oblong secund spikes which disarticulate at maturity from the top of the culm (very tardily in some species); uppermost spikelets abortive, the spike terminating in a pointed extension of the flattened rhachis. Spikelets several-flowered, elliptic to ovate, laterally compressed, biseriate, closely overlapping, disarticulating above the glumes but not between the florets; glumes 1-nerved, keeled, subequal, shorter than the lemmas, persistent, the lower sharply acute, the upper with a stout spreading awn usually arising just below the broadly rounded emarginate tip; lemmas 3-nerved, with the lateral nerves shorter than the lemmas and obscure, keeled, membranous, glabrous, the tip entire, acute to shortly awned; palea subequalling the lemma, the keels sometimes winged. Grain angular, ornamented, enclosed within a free hyaline pericarp which ruptures to release the grain.
A genus of 13 species, mainly Africa to India but one species is widespread in warm regions of the Old World and introduced in America; 3 species occur in Pakistan.
The boundaries between the species of Dactyloctenium are often ill-defined, frequently leading to difficulties in identification. This particularly applies to the annual sea-shore forms, especially in East Africa. Further collecting and some experimental work are required before this genus can be fully understood.