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Pakistan | Family List | Poaceae | Saccharum

Saccharum spontaneum Linn., Mant. 2:183. 1771. Hook.f., Fl. Brit. Ind. 7: 118. 1896; Panje in Indian J. agric. Sci. 3:1013. 1933; Blatter & McCann, Bombay Grasses 45. 1935; Bor, Fl. Assam 5:319. 1940; Sultan & Stewart, Grasses W. Pak. 1:75. 1958; Bor, Grasses Burma Ceyl. Ind. Pak. 214. 1960; Bor in Rech. f., Fl. Iran. 70:516. 1970; Tzvelev, Poaceae URSS 690. 1976; Clayton in Tutin et al., Fl. Eur. 5:265. 1980.

Vern.: Kahi, Kahu, Kans.

  • Imperata spontanea (Linn.) P. Beauv.
  • Saccharum canaliculatum Roxb.
  • Saccharum propinquum Steud.
  • Saccharum semidecumbens Roxb.

    Tall rhizomatous perennial; culms 2-4 m high or more. Leaf-blades 0.5-2 m long, up to 7.5 mm wide, gradually tapered towards the base into a narrow wing on either side of the petiole, glaucous. Panicle 25-40 (-60) cm long, the peduncle usually hairy; racemes 3-15 cm long, usually much longer than the supporting branches, the internodes and pedicels hirsute. Spikelets all alike, 2.5-5(-7) mm long, the callus bearded with silky white hairs 2-3 times as long as the spikelet; glumes equal, subcoriaceous in the lower third, glabrous on the back, often ciliate on the margins above; lower lemma lanceolateelliptic, ciliate on the margins; upper lemma very narrow, very shortly awned.

    Fl. & Fr. Per.: July-September.

    Type: India, Koenig (LINN).

    Distribution: Pakistan (Sind, Punjab, N.W.F.P., Gilgit & Kashmir); widely distributed in the warmer regions of the Old World.

    Asian plants with the leaves narrowed to the midrib towards the base and with a more or less triangular ligule are referable to subsp. spontaneum. In contrast, the African subsp. aegyptiacum (Wald.) Hack. has the leaves laminate to the base and the ligule is crescent-shaped. The latter also occurs in parts of the Middle East.

    This species flowers and fruits at the end of the rains and is therefore capable of colonising areas such as soil and sand left bare by retreating floods. The root-system is extremely extensive and the grass acts as an effective sand-binder. If it should be burned in the dry season it may well be ousted by Imperata and perhaps other species of Saccharum.


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