1. Family: Poaceae Barnhart
    1. Genus: Oryza L.
      1. Oryza glaberrima Steud.

        There are only two species of cultivated rice in the world: Asian rice ( Oryza sativa) and African rice ( Oryza glaberrima). African rice is native to West Africa, where it is cultivated as a foodcrop. It is known for its hardiness and its ability to compete with weeds, pests, infertile soils and human neglect. However, increasingly African rice is being replaced by the introduced Asian varieties of  Oryza sativa, which produce a higher yield than African rice, shatter less easily and have a softer grain that is easier to mill.

    [GB]
    Habit
    Annual. Culms erect, or geniculately ascending; 90-150 cm long. Leaf-sheaths smooth; glabrous on surface. Ligule an eciliate membrane; 1.5-2 mm long; truncate. Leaf-blades 20-30 cm long; 10-15 mm wide. Leaf-blade apex acute.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescence a panicle. Panicle open; linear; equilateral, or nodding; 15-25 cm long. Primary panicle branches appressed, or ascending. Panicle branches angular; scaberulous. Spikelets solitary. Fertile spikelets pedicelled. Pedicels linear; angular; scaberulous; tip cupuliform; bibracteate.
    Spikelets
    Spikelets comprising 2 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets elliptic, or oblong; laterally compressed; 7-8 mm long; persistent on plant. Spikelet callus glabrous.
    Fertile
    Spikelets comprising 2 basal sterile florets; 1 fertile florets; without rhachilla extension. Spikelets elliptic, or oblong; laterally compressed; 7-8 mm long; persistent on plant. Spikelet callus glabrous.
    Glume
    Glumes both absent or obscure.
    Florets
    Basal sterile florets similar; barren; without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret lanceolate; 2-4 mm long; 0.3-0.5 length of spikelet; membranous; 1 -veined; without lateral veins; acute. Lemma of upper sterile floret lanceolate; 2-4 mm long; 1 length of lower sterile floret; membranous. Fertile lemma elliptic; laterally compressed; 7-8 mm long; coriaceous; keeled; 5 -veined. Lemma midvein eciliate. Lemma surface reticulate; glabrous. Lemma margins involute. Lemma apex rostrate; muticous. Palea elliptic; 1 length of lemma; coriaceous; 3 -veined; 1-keeled. Palea keels smooth. Palea apex acute.
    Flowers
    Lodicules 2; lanceolate; membranous. Anthers 6. Stigmas 2.
    Fruits
    Caryopsis with adherent pericarp. Disseminule comprising a floret.
    Distribution
    Africa: west tropical and west-central tropical. Asia-temperate: China.
    Reference
    Oryzeae. WDC.
    [KSP]
    General Description
    African rice is a staple food in West Africa prized for its delicate taste, its ability to withstand flooding and its resistance to pests and diseases.

    There are only two species of cultivated rice in the world: Asian rice ( Oryza sativa) and African rice ( Oryza glaberrima). African rice is native to West Africa, where it is cultivated as a foodcrop. It is known for its hardiness and its ability to compete with weeds, pests, infertile soils and human neglect. However, increasingly African rice is being replaced by the introduced Asian varieties of  Oryza sativa, which produce a higher yield than African rice, shatter less easily and have a softer grain that is easier to mill.

    African rice is still an important crop for small-scale farmers who grow it for its nutty flavour and other culinary qualities. It is also used in a ritualistic context and as a treatment in African traditional medicine.

    Species Profile

    Geography and distribution

    Oryza glaberrima is native to West Africa and grows in the region extending from the delta of the River Senegal to Lake Chad in the east. The most intensive areas of cultivation of African rice are the floodplains of northern Nigeria, the inland delta of the Niger River, parts of Sierra Leone and Ghana.

    African rice was introduced to the New World during the days of the slave trade and today is cultivated in parts of Brazil, Guyana, El Salvador and Panama.  Oryza glaberrima is thought to have been domesticated from its wild ancestor  Oryza barthii around 1,500 BC in the inland delta of the Niger River. Today  Oryza barthii can be found growing wild in parts of Africa.

    Description

    Overveiw:  Oryza glaberrima is an annual with erect stems up to 90-150 cm long. The sheaths which enclose the stems are smooth and hairless.

    Leaves:The leaf blades are 20-30 cm long and 10-15 mm wide and pointed at the tip.

    Flowers: The inflorescence is a panicle (an extensively branched inflorescence) 15-25 cm long. The spikelets (clustered units of flowers and bracts) are solitary. The fertile spikelets comprise two sterile florets at the base and one fertile floret. The spikelets are about 8 mm long and remain on the plant when mature. The glumes (empty bracts that enclose the florets) are absent or obscure. The flower contains two lance-shaped (lanceolate) lodicules (small structures at the base of the stamens). Each flower has six anthers and two stigmas.

    Fruits:The fruit is a caryopsis (a dry fruit where the fruit wall is attached to the seed).

    Uses

    African rice is a staple food which can be prepared in similar ways to Asian rice ( Oryza sativa). Broken grains are used to feed chicken and other livestock. Some cultures in West Africa, such as the Jola of southern Senegal grow African rice to be used in traditional ceremonies and rituals.

    African rice also has many medicinal benefits: for example, in the Central African Republic the root is eaten raw as a remedy for diarrhoea. 

    Crop wild relatives of African rice

    The Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust are engaged in a ten-year project, called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change'. The project aims to protect, collect and prepare the wild relatives of 29 key food crops, including African rice, so that they are available to pre-breeders for the development of new varieties that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plants worldwide, focusing on those plants which are under threat and those which are of most use in the future. Once seeds have been collected they are dried, packaged and stored at -20°C in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank vault.

    Description of seeds: Average weight of 1,000 seeds = 26.5 gNumber of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: OneSeed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant can be dried to a low moisture content without significantly reducing their viability which means they are suitable for long-term frozen storage)

    Germination testing: Successful

    This species at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens ofAfrican rice are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details and images of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

    Distribution
    Ghana, Niger, Sierra Leone
    Ecology
    African rice grows best on fertile alluvial soils although it tolerates low soil fertility and can produce higher yields than Asian rice on alkaline and phosphorus-deficient soils. Floating rice is planted on loam or clay soils.
    Conservation
    Widespread in cultivation.
    [KSP]
    Use
    Food, medicine, livestock feed, ritual.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Benin, Burkina, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo

    Introduced Into:

    China South-Central, Hainan, West Himalaya

    Common Names

    English
    African rice

    Oryza glaberrima Steud. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    Chevalier, A. [2202], Sudan K000345485
    Chevalier, A. [25004], Mali K000345486

    First published in Syn. Pl. Glumac. 1: 3 (1853)

    Accepted in:

    • [1] Onana, J.M. (2011) The vascular plants of Cameroon a taxonomic checklist with IUCN assessments . National herbarium of Cameroon, Yaoundé.
    • [3] (2009) Indian Journal of Forestry 32: 657-668
    • [4] (2009) Scripta Botanica Belgica 41: 1-517
    • [8] (2006) Flora of China 22: 1-733. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.
    • [9] Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006) Flore Analytique du Bénin . Backhuys Publishers.
    • [11] Catarino, L., Sampaio Martins, E., Pinto-Basto, M.F. & Diniz, M.A. (2006) Plantas Vasculares e Briófitos da Guiné-Bissau . Instituto de investigação científica tropical, Instituto Português de apoio ao desenvolvimento.
    • [12] Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. & Williamson, H. (2006) World Grass Species - Synonymy database . The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [13] (2002) Boissiera 58: 1-401
    • [15] Jones, M. (1991) A checklist of Gambian plants . Michael Jones, The Gambia College.
    • [16] Lebrun, J.P., Toutain, B., Gaston, A. & Boudet, G. (1991) Catalogue des Plantes Vasculaires du Burkina Faso . Institut d' Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux, Maisons Alfort.
    • [17] Karthikeyan, S., Jain, S.K., Nayar, M.P. & Sanjappa, M. (1989) Florae Indicae Enumeratio: Monocotyledonae . Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.
    • [18] Boudet, G., Lebrun, J.P. & Demange, R. (1986) Catalogue des plantes vasculaires du Mali . Etudes d'Elevage et de Médecine Vétérinaire des Pays Tropicaux.
    • [19] Brunel, J.F., Hiepo, P. & Scholz, H. (eds.) (1984) Flore Analytique du Togo Phanérogames: 1-751. GTZ, Eschborn.
    • [20] 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.
    • [21] Lebrun, J.P. (1973) Énumération des plantes vasculaires du Sénégal . Maisons Alfort: Institut d'élevage et de médecine vétérinaire des pays tropicaux.
    • [22] (1972) Flora of West Tropical Africa , ed. 2, 3(2): 277-574

    Literature

    • [2] Beentje, H. (2010). The Kew Plant Glossary: an Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Terms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • [5] Mabberley, D.J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. Third edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    • [6] Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2008). Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1.
    • [7] Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2006 onwards). GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora.
    • [10] Brink, M. & Belay, G. (2006). Cereals and Pulses: Volume 1 of Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. PROTA.
    • [14] Linares, O.F. (2002) African rice (Oryza glaberrima): History and future potential. PNAS 99: 16360-16365
    • [23] Berhaut, Fl. Sén. ed. 2, 416
    • [24] Portères in J. Agric. Trop. 3: 833.
    • [25] Chev. Bot. 738
    • [26] Syn. Pl. Glum. 1: 3 (1854)

    Sources

    International Plant Names Index
    The International Plant Names Index (2016). Published on the Internet http://www.ipni.org
    [A] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [B] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [C]

    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
    World Checklist of Selected Plant Families(2016). Published on the Internet http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    [D] See http://kew.org/about-kew/website-information/legal-notices/index.htm You may use data on these Terms and Conditions and on further condition that: The data is not used for commercial purposes; You may copy and retain data solely for scholarly, educational or research purposes; You may not publish our data, except for small extracts provided for illustrative purposes and duly acknowledged; You acknowledge the source of the data by the words "With the permission of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew" in a position which is reasonably prominent in view of your use of the data; Any other use of data or any other content from this website may only be made with our prior written agreement. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
    [E] © Copyright 2016 International Plant Names Index and World Checkist of Selected Plant Families. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora
    http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html. Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2006 onwards)
    [F] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0