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Origin: Native to southern Africa
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and geo-cultural connections
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Known Hazards: None known.
Habitat: Arable land and road sides.
Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)
Medicinal Rating: 0 (1-5)
Physical Characteristics:Tufted, often tussocky, perennial grass to about
1.5 m tall. Leaves hairless or with soft hairs having wart-like bases;
appendage at base of leaf (ligule) a hairy rim to 1 mm long; blade
about 3 mm wide. Seeds cream to brown about 1 mm long.
Flowers: Seed Head: Up to 30 cm long. Flowers mostly
summer to autumn, but spring burning will promote rapid growth to full
maturity in early summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has
both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Apomictic (reproduce
by seeds formed without sexual fusion), wind.
The plant is self-fertile.
Distinguishing features: Distinguished by erect, open or compact
seedhead, that has a lead-grey or grey-green appearance (see photo) and
leaf tips that are often curly.
Dispersal: Seeds that are often spread in mud on vehicles and animals.
Seed - cooked or used as a grain.
Basketry; Biomass; Soil stabilization.
A deep-rooted plant, it is considered excellent for protecting
terraces and for grassing water channels and is valuable for erosion
In Lesotho, the plant is used to make baskets, brooms, hats, ropes, and
Notes: A variable species complex. Valued for soil conservation
and fodder or regarded as a serious weed. Introduced for soil
stabilisation. Common on sandy soils; capable of resisting drought and
heavy grazing. Successfully competes with low growing weeds such as
Spiny Burrgrass Cenchrus species and Caltrop Tribulus terrestris.
Many early introductions were of low palatability. 'Consol' is a
cultivar selected for palatability. Seedlings grow rapidly after summer
rain and strategies to control it depend on providing unfavourable
conditions in summer. Serious weed of road verges and may form dense
swards crowding out more desirable species in pasture or environmental