1. Family: Poaceae Barnhart
    1. Genus: Imperata Cirillo
      1. Imperata cylindrica (L.) P.Beauv.

        Imperata cylindrica, or alang-alang, is regarded as a very serious weed in tropical countries. It spreads by scaly rhizomes and can invade and over-run any disturbed ecosystem, including cultivated fields. It is very difficult to eradicate.

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description
    Alang-alang is considered one of the ten worst weeds in the world, but has many uses as a traditional medicine.

    Imperata cylindrica, or alang-alang, is regarded as a very serious weed in tropical countries. It spreads by scaly rhizomes and can invade and over-run any disturbed ecosystem, including cultivated fields. It is very difficult to eradicate.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    Alang-alang is native to Asia, Micronesia, Australasia, Europe, southeast USA, Mexico and Africa and is estimated to cover 2,000,000 square kilometres (including natural grasslands) throughout the tropics.

    Description

    Imperata cylindrica is perennial, with basal leaves 3-100 cm long, 2-20 mm wide and stiff with scabrous leaf-blade margins. The flowering head is loosely cylindrical with abundant white silky hairs concealing the flowering parts.

    Uses

    Alang-alang is used in land reclamation and for soil erosion control on account of its vigorous, rhizomatous habit. However, these same characteristics make it a serious invasive species in pastures, abandoned cultivation and deforested areas throughout the tropics and subtropics and is considered by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group as one of the world's worst weeds.

    The stems of Imperata cylindrica are used as thatch, the stems and leaves for making ropes, and its fibres are used to make paper. In southeast Asia and Africa alang-alang is used in traditional medicine for treating a wide range of ailments.

    Its rhizome is used for treating blood system disorders, nausea, indigestion and jaundice. In China the rhizome is used as a diuretic, a restorative tonic, and to stop bleeding; in southeast Asia it is used for treating diarrhoea and dysentery. In Namibia, the stems are ground into a powder used as a cosmetic, and also cut into pieces and strung for decorations. Alang-alang is generally regarded as having poor forage value.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Ten

    Seed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant survive being dried without significantly reducing their viability, and are therefore amenable to long-term frozen storage such as at the MSB)

    Germination testing: Successful

    Distribution
    Australia, Mexico
    Ecology
    Seasonally wet places and alongside streams; a common and aggressive weed of disturbed places and cultivated fields.
    Conservation
    Considered by IUCN to be one of the world's worst weeds.
    Hazards

    Not recorded

    [GB]
    Habit
    Perennial. Rhizomes elongated; scaly. Culms erect; 10-120 cm long. Leaves mostly basal. Ligule a ciliolate membrane. Leaf-blades erect; flat, or convolute; 3-100 cm long; 2-20 mm wide; stiff. Leaf-blade margins scabrous.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescence a panicle with branches tipped by a raceme. Panicle spiciform; linear; 3-22 cm long. Primary panicle branches accrescent to a central axis; with evident branchlets on axis. Racemes bearing few fertile spikelets. Rhachis tough; subterete. Rhachis internodes filiform. Spikelets in pairs. Fertile spikelets pedicelled; 2 in the cluster. Pedicels filiform; unequal.
    Spikelets
    Spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets lanceolate; subterete; 2.2-6 mm long; falling entire. Spikelet callus bearded; base truncate. Spikelet callus hairs white; 2-3 length of spikelet.
    Fertile
    Spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets lanceolate; subterete; 2.2-6 mm long; falling entire. Spikelet callus bearded; base truncate. Spikelet callus hairs white; 2-3 length of spikelet.
    Glume
    Glumes similar; exceeding apex of florets; firmer than fertile lemma. Lower glume oblong; 1 length of spikelet; membranous; without keels; 5-7 -veined. Lower glume surface villous; hairy below. Lower glume apex obtuse. Upper glume oblong; 2.2-6 mm long; membranous; without keels; 5-7 -veined. Upper glume surface villous; hairy below. Upper glume apex obtuse.
    Florets
    Basal sterile florets barren; without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret similar to fertile lemma; oblong; 0.5 length of spikelet; hyaline; 0 -veined; without midvein; without lateral veins; ciliolate on margins; erose; obtuse. Fertile lemma ovate; 1 mm long; hyaline; without keel; 0 -veined. Lemma apex acute. Palea hyaline; 0 -veined; without keels.
    Flowers
    Lodicules absent. Anthers 2; 3-5 mm long. Stigmas 2; terminally exserted.
    Distribution
    Europe: southwestern and southeastern. Africa: north, Macaronesia, west tropical, west-central tropical, northeast tropical, east tropical, southern tropical, south, and western Indian ocean. Asia-temperate: Soviet Middle Asia, Caucasus, western Asia, Arabia, China, and eastern Asia. Asia-tropical: India, Indo-China, Malesia, and Papuasia. Australasia: Australia and New Zealand. Pacific: southwestern and northwestern. North America: southeast USA and Mexico.
    Reference
    Andropogoneae. FTEA.
    [KSP]
    Use
    Land reclamation, soil erosion control, thatch, ropes, paper, traditional medicine, cosmetics.

    Images

    Distribution

    Doubtfully present in:

    Oman

    Native to:

    Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Baleares, Benin, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Canary Is., Cape Provinces, Cape Verde, Central African Repu, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Corse, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, France, Free State, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Iran, Iraq, Italy, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Kriti, Kuwait, KwaZulu-Natal, Lebanon-Syria, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Madeira, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Palestine, Portugal, Rwanda, Sardegna, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sicilia, Sierra Leone, Sinai, Socotra, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Uganda, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

    Introduced into:

    Alabama, Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Christmas I., Cocos (Keeling) Is., East Himalaya, Fiji, Florida, Georgia, Hainan, India, Inner Mongolia, Japan, Jawa, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Korea, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Louisiana, Malaya, Maluku, Manchuria, Marianas, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest, Mississippi, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand North, Nicobar Is., Norfolk Is., North Caucasus, Ogasawara-shoto, Oregon, Pakistan, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Is., South Carolina, South China Sea, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Tadzhikistan, Taiwan, Texas, Thailand, Tibet, Tonga, Transcaucasus, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Virginia, Wallis-Futuna Is., West Himalaya, Xinjiang

    Common Names

    English
    Alang-alang

    Imperata cylindrica (L.) P.Beauv. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    May 1, 1998 Etuge, M. [2204], Cameroon K000339603
    May 1, 1998 Asongani, J.N. [1325], Cameroon K000339604
    Jan 1, 1797 Strachey, R. [2], India K000245566 syntype
    Kerr, A.F.G. [3784], Thailand K000620311
    Kerr, A.F.G. [1097], Thailand K000620312
    Smitinand, T. [8778], Thailand K000688498
    Chantaranothai, P. [1067], Thailand K000688502
    Nooteboom, H.P. [712], Thailand K000688501
    King, R.M. [5427], Thailand K000688499
    King, R.M. [5480], Thailand K000688500
    Parker, R.N. [3458], South Africa K000280760
    Dinter [1767], Namibia K000280758
    Drège [4253], South Africa K000280759 Unknown type material
    Marcan, A. [2312], Thailand K000620310
    Vanderyst, H. [7001], Zaire K000280806
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128347
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128348
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128349
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128350
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128351
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850], India Imperata koenigii K001128352
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 8850] Imperata koenigii K001128353
    Kerr, A.F.G. [11597], Thailand Imperata cylindrica var. major K000620313
    Wight, R. [1680], India Imperata cylindrica var. major K000943440 Unknown type material
    Marcan, A. [2302], Thailand Imperata cylindrica var. major K000620314
    Röttler, J.P. [s.n.], India Imperata cylindrica var. major K000943439
    s.coll. [191], India Imperata cylindrica var. major K000943438

    First published in Ess. Agrostogr.: 165 (1812)

    Accepted by

    • Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015). The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan: 1-400. Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Chang, C.S., Kim, H. & Chang, K.S. (2014). Provisional checklist of vascular plants for the Korea peninsula flora (KPF): 1-660. DESIGNPOST.
    • Onana, J.M. (2011). The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments: 1-195. National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
    • Dobignard, D. & Chatelain, C. (2010). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 1: 1-455. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
    • Clayton, W.D. & Snow, N. (2010). A key to Pacific Grasses: 1-107. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Kandwal, M.K. & Gupta, B.K. (2009). An update on grass flora of Uttarkhand Indian Journal of Forestry 32: 657-668.
    • Lisowski, S. (2009). Flore (Angiospermes) de la République de Guinée Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517.
    • Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Cope, T.A., Knees, S.G. & Miller, A.G. (2007). Flora of the Arabian peninsula and Socotra 5(1): 1-387. Edinburgh University Press.
    • Newman, M., Ketphanh, S., Svengsuksa, B., Thomas, P., Sengdala, K., Lamxay, V. & Armstrong, K. (2007). A checklist of the vascular plants of Lao PDR: 1-394. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
    • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2006). Poaceae Flora of China 22: 1-733. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (2006). Check-list des plantes vasculaires du Gabon Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438.
    • Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006). Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau: 1-298. Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006). World Grass Species - Synonymy database The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Dávila, P., Mejia-Saulés, M.T., Gómez-Sánchez, N., Valdés-Reyna, J., Ortíz, J.J., Morín, C., Castrejón, J. & Ocampo, A. (2006). Catálogo de las Gramíneas de México: 1-671. CONABIO, México city.
    • Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
    • Boulos, L. (2005). Flora of Egypt 4: 1-617. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
    • Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo, ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • Danin, A. (2004). Distribution Atlas of Plants in the Flora Palaestina area: 1-517. The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem.
    • Miller, A.G. & Morris, M. (2004). Ethnoflora of Soqotra Archipelago: 1-759. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
    • Kress, W.J., DeFilipps, R.A., Farr, E. & Kyi, D.Y.Y. (2003). A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Climbers of Myanmar Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 45: 1-590.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2003). Flora of North America North of Mexico 25: 1-781. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.: i-vi, 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Cope, T.A. (2002). Flora Zambesiaca 10(4): 1-190. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Noltie, H.J. (2000). Flora of Bhutan 3(2): 457-883. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
    • Turner, I.M., Xing, F. & Corlett, R.T. (2000). An annotated check-list of the vascular plants of the South China Sea and its shores The Raffles bulletin of Zoology, Suppl. 8: 23-116.
    • Press, J.R. et al. (2000). Annotated Checklist of the Flowering Plants of Nepal: i-x, 1-430. Natural History Museum, London.
    • Wood, J.R.I. (1997). A Handbook of the Yemen Flora: 1-434. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (eds.) (1995). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7: 1-430. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • Dassanayake (ed.) (1994). A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon 8: 1-458. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. LTD., New Delhi, Calcutta.
    • George, A.S., Orchard, A.E. & Hewson, H.J. (eds.) (1993). Oceanic islands 2 Flora of Australia 50: 1-606. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1993). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 4. revised edition Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295.
    • Ndabaneze, P. (1989). Catalogue des Graminées du Burundi Lejeunia; Revue de Botanique, n.s., 132: 1-127.
    • Karthikeyan, S., Jain, S.K., Nayar, M.P. & Sanjappa, M. (1989). Florae Indicae Enumeratio: Monocotyledonae: 1-435. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.
    • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1988). Flora du Rwanda 4: I-X, 1-651. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.
    • Al-Rawi, A. (1987). Flora of Kuwait 2: 1-455. Alden Press Ltd., U.K.
    • Boudet, G., Lebrun, J.P. & Demange, R. (1986). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali: 1-465. Etudes d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux.
    • Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1985). Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 9: 1-724. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • Meikle, R.D. (1985). Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Cope, T.A. (1982). Flora of Pakistan 143: 1-678. Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi.
    • Clayton, W.D. & Renvoize, S.A. (1982). Gramineae Flora of Tropical East Africa 3: 451-898.
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980). Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
    • Boulvert, Y. (1977). Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 2(2): 1-94. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • Hepper, F.N. (ed.) (1972). Flora of West Tropical Africa, ed. 2, 3(2): 277-574.
    • Bor, N.L. (1970). Flora Iranica 70: 1-573. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
    • Lewalle, J. (1970). Liste floristique et répartition altitudinale de la flore du Burundi occidental: 1-84. Université officielle de Bujumbura.
    • Bosser, J. (1969). Gramiées des pasturages et des cultures a Madagascar: 1-440. ORSTOM, Paris.
    • Henty, E.E. (1969). A manual of the grasses of New Guinea: 1-215. Division of Botany, Dpt. of Forests, LAE, New Guinea.
    • Bor, N.L. (1968). Flora of Iraq 9: 1-588. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • Gillet, H. (1968). Le peuplement végétal du massif de l'Ennedi (Tchad) Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Serie B. Botanique 17: 1-206.

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    • Cope, T.A., Knees, S.G. & Miller, A.G. (2007). Flora of the Arabian peninsula and Socotra 5(1): 1-387. Edinburgh University Press.
    • Newman, M., Ketphanh, S., Svengsuksa, B., Thomas, P., Sengdala, K., Lamxay, V. & Armstrong, K. (2007). A checklist of the vascular plants of Lao PDR: 1-394. Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.
    • Wu, Z. & Raven, P.H. (eds.) (2006). Poaceae Flora of China 22: 1-733. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (2006). Check-list des plantes vasculaires du Gabon Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438.
    • Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006). Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau: 1-298. Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • Dávila, P., Mejia-Saulés, M.T., Gómez-Sánchez, N., Valdés-Reyna, J., Ortíz, J.J., Morín, C., Castrejón, J. & Ocampo, A. (2006). Catálogo de las Gramíneas de México: 1-671. CONABIO, México city.
    • Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006). Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
    • Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005). Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo, ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
    • Miller, A.G. & Morris, M. (2004). Ethnoflora of Soqotra Archipelago: 1-759. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
    • Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2003). Flora of North America North of Mexico 25: 1-781. Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford.
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14.: i-vi, 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Cope, T.A. (2002). Flora Zambesiaca 10(4): 1-190. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Turner, I.M., Xing, F. & Corlett, R.T. (2000). An annotated check-list of the vascular plants of the South China Sea and its shores The Raffles bulletin of Zoology, Suppl. 8: 23-116.
    • Aedo, C., Tellería, M.T. & Velayos, M. (eds.) (1999). Bases Documentales para la Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial; Plantas vascularis y hongos: 1-414. CSIC, real jardín Botánico, Madrid.
    • Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (eds.) (1995). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7: 1-430. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • Orchard, A.E. (ed.) (1994). Oceanic Islands 1 Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • George, A.S., Orchard, A.E. & Hewson, H.J. (eds.) (1993). Oceanic islands 2 Flora of Australia 50: 1-606. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • Hansen, A. & Sunding, P. (1993). Flora of Macaronesia. Checklist of vascular plants. 4. revised edition Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295.
    • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1988). Flora du Rwanda 4: I-X, 1-651. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale.
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    • Lewalle, J. (1970). Liste floristique et répartition altitudinale de la flore du Burundi occidental: 1-84. Université officielle de Bujumbura.
    • Bor, N.L. (1968). Flora of Iraq 9: 1-588. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • Gillet, H. (1968). Le peuplement végétal du massif de l'Ennedi (Tchad) Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Serie B. Botanique 17: 1-206.
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    • Robyns, W. (1929). Flore Agrostologique du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi 1: 1-229. Goemaere, Bruxelles.
    • Voeltzkow, A. (1917). Flora und Fauna der Comoren: 428-480.

    Sources

    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

    GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
    'The Herbarium Catalogue, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet http://www.kew.org/herbcat [accessed on Day Month Year]'. Please enter the date on which you consulted the system.
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Plants and People Africa
    Common Names from Plants and People Africa http://www.plantsandpeopleafrica.com/
    © Plants and People Africa http://www.plantsandpeopleafrica.com http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/