Rhaphis echinulata Nees
Perennial; culms 50-150 cm high, erect, robust. Leaf-blades up to 35 cm long, 2.5-4.5 mm wide, bluntly acute to acuminate, glabrous or covered with sparse or dense tubercle-based hairs. Panicle ovate, 6-18 cm long, with rather stiff erect branches (or these sometimes capillary, flexuous and spreading) fulvously bearded at the tip, bearing short racemes of 2-3(-5) joints. Sessile spikelet narrowly oblong; lower glume 5-8 mm long, laterally compressed to a broadly rounded keel, this with a single row (rarely a second row present) of tubercle-based spines or cilia on each side, sometimes minutely hispidulous at the tip; upper glume hispidulous on the keel towards the tip, awnless, mucronate or with an awn up to 10 mm long; upper lemma minutely bidentate, with a shortly pubescent awn 12-20 mm long, rarely longer. Pedicelled spikelets 7-11 mm long, the lower glume bearing an awn 3.5-7 mm long; pedicels glabrous, two-thirds to three-quarters the length of the sessile spikelet.
Fl. & Fr. Per.: June-September.
Type: Northwest India, Royle 226 (LIV).
Distribution: Pakistan (Punjab, N.W.F.P. & Kashmir); Northeast Afghanistan, Northwest India and Nepal.
Chrysopogon gryllus is a species with a remarkably disjunct distribution. Subspecies gryllus is mainly centred on the Mediterranean region and Southeast Europe extending eastwards to northern Iraq and the Caucasus Mountains. Then there is a gap of some 3000 miles before another, morphologically indistinguishable population is found centred on Assam but with plants sporadically occurring to the west in Nepal and the Simla region. Between these two centres lies yet another population, but one showing considerable morphological segregation. This population occurs from the extreme northeast of Afghanistan eastwards through northern Pakistan and Kashmir, along the Himalayas to Central Nepal; these plants have previously been known as Chrysopogon echinulatus. Along the Himalayan belt there is a gradual west to east transition from pure echinulatus to pure gryllus with an outly¬ing intermediate population in the Nilgiri Hills. It has proved impracticable to separate these two taxa at the species level, hence the reduction of echinulatus to a subspecies of gryllus.
The two subspecies can be distinguished by the following combinations of characters, although many more or less indeterminate intermediates will be found: subsp. gryllus: panicle open with long capillary branches; spikelets in triads; awns stout, 25-35 mm long.
subsp. echinulatus: panicle contracted with firmer, ± erect branches; spikeletes in racemes of 2-3(-5) joints; awns rather fine, 12-20 mm long.