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.

    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.


    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.


    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:TenSeed 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

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

    Not recorded

    Land reclamation, soil erosion control, thatch, ropes, paper, traditional medicine, cosmetics.



    Found In:

    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, Oman, 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


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

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

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. & Pickering, H. (eds.) (2015) The Plants of Sudan and South Sudan . Kew publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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    • [8] (2009) Indian Journal of Forestry 32: 657-668
    • [9] (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
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    • [16] (2006) Flora of China 22: 1-733. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • [17] (2006) Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438
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    • [20] 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 . CONABIO, México city.
    • [21] Takhtajan, A.L. (ed.) (2006) Conspectus Florae Caucasi 2: 1-466. Editio Universitatis Petropolitanae.
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    • [23] Sita, P. & Moutsambote, J.-M. (2005) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Congo , ed. sept. 2005: 1-158. ORSTOM, Centre de Brazzaville.
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    • [36] (1995) Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 7: 1-430. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • [37] (1994) Flora of Australia 49: 1-681. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • [38] Dassanayake (ed.) (1994) A Revised Handbook to the Flora of Ceylon 8: 1-458. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. PVT. LTD., New Delhi, Calcutta.
    • [39] (1993) Flora of Australia 50: 1-606. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.
    • [40] (1993) Sommerfeltia 17: 1-295
    • [42] (1989) Lejeunia; Revue de Botanique , n.s., 132: 1-127
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    • [50] Davis, P.H. (ed.) (1985) Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 9: 1-724. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
    • [51] Meikle, R.D. (1985) Flora of Cyprus 2: 833-1970. The Bentham-Moxon Trust Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [53] (1982) Flora of Pakistan 143: 1-678. Department of Botany, University of Karachi, Karachi.
    • [54] (1982) Flora of Tropical East Africa 3: 451-898
    • [57] Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1980) Flora Europaea 5: 1-452. Cambridge University Press.
    • [58] Boulvert, Y. (1977) Catalogue de la Flore de Centrafrique 2(2): 1-94. ORSTOM, Bangui.
    • [62] (1972) Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 3(2): 277-574
    • [63] (1970) Flora Iranica 70: 1-573. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
    • [64] Lewalle, J. (1970) Liste floristique et répartition altitudinale de la flore du Burundi occidental . Université officielle de Bujumbura.
    • [67] Bosser, J. (1969) Gramiées des pasturages et des cultures a Madagascar . ORSTOM, Paris.
    • [68] Henty, E.E. (1969) A manual of the grasses of New Guinea . Division of Botany, Dpt. of Forests, LAE, New Guinea.
    • [69] (1968) Flora of Iraq 9: 1-588. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad.
    • [70] (1968) Mémoires du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Serie B. Botanique 17: 1-206


    • [3] Hassler, M. (2012) Flora of Rhodes. Systematic list of flora of Rhodes . http://www.rz.uni-karlsruhe.de/~db111/flora/rhodos/list.php.
    • [5] (2010) Flora of New Zealand , ed. 2, 5: 1-650. R.E.Owen, Government Printer, Wellington.
    • [10] (2008) Encyclopedia of Flora and Fauna of Bangladesh 12: 1-505. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
    • [11] (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • [12] (2008) Pleione 2: 98-105
    • [33] Aedo, C., Tellería, M.T. & Velayos, M. (eds.) (1999) Bases Documentales para la Flora de Guinea Ecuatorial; Plantas vascularis y hongos . CSIC, real jardín Botánico, Madrid.
    • [34] de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara, N. and Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (eds) (1999). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1). Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Backhuys, Leiden, The Netherlands.
    • [41] Van Oudtshoorn, F. (1992). Guide to Grasses of South Africa. Briza Publcations, Pretoria.
    • [45] (1987) Ogasawara Research 13: 1-55
    • [48] Giess, W. & Snyman, J.W. (1986). The Naming and Utilization of Plantlife by the Žu|’hõasi Bushmen of the Kau-kauveld. University of South Africa, Pretoria.
    • [49] (1985) Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Section B, Adansonia 7: 259-329
    • [52] Peekel, P.G. (1984) Flora of the Bismarck Archipelago for Naturalists . Office of Forests, Division of Botany, Lae, Papua New Guinea.
    • [55] Sen, D.N. (1982). Environment and Plant life in Indian Desert. Geobios International, Jodhpur.
    • [56] Singh, V. & Singh, P. (1982). Fibre yielding crops of Rajasthan. J. Econ. Tax. Bot. 3: 385-390.
    • [59] Chippendall, L.K.A. & Crook, A.O. (1976). Grasses of Southern Africa. Collins, Salisbury.
    • [60] Peyre de Fabregues, B. & Lebrun, J.-P. (1976) Catalogue des Plantes Vascularies du Niger . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [61] Walker, E.H. (1976) Flora of Okinawa and the southern Ryukyu islands . Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C., U.S.A..
    • [65] Lewalle, J. (1970) Liste floristique et répartition altitudinale de la flore du Burundi occidental . Université officielle de Bujumbura.
    • [66] Wendt, W.B., Stobbs, T.H., Tiley, G.E.D. & Tucker, G.G. (1970). Pasture Handbook: A practical guide for farmers, extension workers and students, to the establishment and management of sown pastures and fodder crops in Uganda. Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Entebbe.
    • [71] Watt, J.M. & Brayer-Brandwijk, M.G. (1962). The Medicinal and Poisonous plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. E. and S. Livingstone, Edinburgh.
    • [72] (1957) Flora Tadzhikskoi SSR 1: 1-547. Izd-vo Akademii nauk SSSR, Moskva.
    • [73] Hubbard, C.E. & Vaughan, R.E. (1940) Grasses of Mauritius and Rodriguez . Crown Agents for the Colonies, London.
    • [74] Robyns, W. (1929) Flore Agrostologique du Congo Belge et du Ruanda-Urundi 1: 1-229. Goemaere, Bruxelles.
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