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Family Poaceae
Themeda triandra Forssk
Huang bei cao

Scientific names Common names
Andropogon ciliatus Thunb.            Bagokbok (Tagalog)
Andropogon tenuipedicellatus Steud.            Ipatpatey (Bontok)
Anthistiria argentea Nees            Samsamon (Ilokano)
Anthistiria arguens var. japonica (Andersson) Miq.            Anglegrass (Engl.)
Anthistiria arguens f. japonica Andersson            Kangaroo grass (Engl.)
Anthistiria australis R.Br.            Red grass (Engl.)
Anthistiria barbata Desf.         Red oat grass (Engl.)
Anthistiria brachyantha Boiss.          
Anthistiria caespitosa Andersson          
Anthistiria ciliata Cav. ex Spreng.          
Anthistiria ciliata var. brachyantha (Boiss.) Boiss.       
Anthistiria ciliata var. burchellii (Hack.) Hack.       
Anthistiria ciliata var. mollicoma Nees       
Anthistiria ciliata var. syriaca (Boiss.) Boiss.       
Anthistiria cuspidata Andersson          
Anthistiria depauperata Andersson          
Anthistiria desfontainii Kunth          
Anthistiria forskalii Kunth          
Anthistiria glauca Desf.          
Anthistiria imberbis Retz.          
Anthistiria imberbis var. argentea (Nees) Stapf          
Anthistiria imberbis var. burchellii (Hack.) Stapf          
Anthistiria imberbis var. mollicoma (Nees) Stapf          
Anthistiria imberbis var. roylei Hook.f.      
Anthistiria imberbis var. vulgaris (Hack.) Hook.f.          
Anthistiria japonica Willd.          
Anthistiria paleacea (Poir.) Ball.          
Anthistiria polystachya Roxb.          
Anthistiria puberula Andersson          
Anthistiria punctata Hochst. ex A.Rich.          
Anthistiria subglabra Buse          
Anthistiria syriaca Boiss.          
Anthistiria vulgaris Hack.          
Apluda barbata Llanos          
Apluda imberbis Steud.          
Calamina imberbis (Retz.) P.Beauv.          
Stipa arguens Houtt.          
Stipa paleacea Poir.          
Themeda australis (R.Br.) Stapf          
Themeda barbata (Desf.) Veldkamp          
Themeda barbinodis B.S.Sun & S.Wang          
Themeda brachyantha (Boiss.) Trab.          
Themeda forskalii Hack.  
Themeda forskalii var. argentea (Nees) Hack  
Themeda forskalii var. burchellii Hack  
Themeda forskalii var. glauca Hack  
Themeda forskalii var. imberbis (Retz.) Hack.  
Themeda forskalii subvar. japonica (Andersson) Hack.  
Themeda forskalii var. major Hack  
Themeda forskalii var. mollissima Hack  
Themeda forskalii var. paleacea (Poir.) T.Durand & Schinz  
Themeda forskalii subvar. subglobosa Hack.  
Themeda forskalii var. vulgaris (Hack.) Hack  
Themeda glauca Trab.  
Themeda imberbis (Retz.) T.Cooke  
Themeda japonica (Andersson) Tanaka  
Themeda japonica var. viridiflora Hon da  
Themeda triandra Forssk.  
Themeda triandra var. brachyantha (Boiss.) Hack.  
Themeda triandra var. bracteosa Peter  
Themeda triandra var. burchellii (Hack.)  
Themeda triandra var. glauca (Hack.) Thell.  
Themeda triandra var. hispida Stapf  
Themeda triandra var. imberbis (Retz.) Hack.  
Themeda triandra subvar. japonica (Andersson) Rendle  
Themeda triandra subsp. japonica (Andersson) T.Koyama  
Themeda triandra var. japonica (Andersson) Makino  
Themeda triandra var. punctata (Hoxhst. ex A.Rich.) Stapf  
Themeda triandra var. sublaevigata Chiov.  
Themeda triandra var. syriaca (Boiss.) Hack.  
Themeda triandra var. tachysapthea Gooss.  
Themeda triandra var. vulgaris (Hck.) Domin  
Themeda unica S.L.Chen & T.D.Zhuang  
Themeda trianda is an accepted species. It has 73 synonyms. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
AFRICA: Rooigras.
CHINA: Huang bei cao.
INDONESIA: Merakan lanang.
LAOS: Hnaaz feek.
THAILAND: Ya-faek.
VIETNAM: Co'bong cao ru'[n]g knop; Co'tam hu[n]g.

Gen info
- Themeda triandra is a species of C4 perennial tussock-forming grass widespread in Africa, Australia, Asia, and the Pacific.
- It was first described in 1775 by Peter Forsskal in Flora Aegyptiaco-Arabica.

- Etymology: The specific epithet triandra derives from Latin triandrus, meaning "with three stamens, based on Greek-derived combining forms tri-, three and -andrus, male. (2) The meaning of the genus name Themeda is obscure, but it is Arabic and might have to do with water or the lack thereof. The species name triandra derives from Greek words tri (three) and andr (man), referring to the three male spikelets surrounding the bisexual spikelet in each cluster. (4)
- Red oat grass is the most common grass in the natural grasslands of Africa. In East Africa it represents 16% of the grasslands.
- Ecology: Themeda triandra is an indicator of the veld (open, uncultivated grassland in southern Africa) being in good condition. It is known to be resistant to fire, the resistance increasing when burn regularly, rested in between fires, and not over-grazed. (4)

Themeda triandra is a tufted leafy perennial, growing up to 1.5 m tall, erect, culms usually unbranched but quite variable in morphology, smooth, often becoming golden at maturity, nodes hairless. Leaves both basal and on the culms; leaf-sheath keeled, coarsely striate, hairless below but becoming quite short-hairy towards the ligule, the margins translucent; ligule short and membranous, later splitting into a broad rim of short hairs with some longer, marginal hairs; leaf-blade 15-50 cm × 2-5 mm, green or sometimes bluish, folded with a more or less hairy clasping base, becoming more or less flat towards the acutely pointed tip, flexuous, smooth or slightly rough down the margins. Inflorescence a loose, narrow spathate usually reddish-coloured panicle, the flexuous peduncled racemes slightly nodding; panicle branches slender and smooth, often quite widely separated along the axis and bearing clusters of one to several racemes (spikelet clusters), each at first enclosed by, and later subtended by a strongly keeled, sheath-like spathe; spikelet clusters are composed of a sessile, fertile awned spikelet surrounded by an involucre of 2 pairs of sessile and 1 pair of pedicellate male or sterile (often reduced) spikelets; florets 2 in the fertile spikelet, the lower sterile and reduced to a lemma, the upper bisexual, 1 in the involucral and pedicellate spikelets which are male, sterile or reduced to a lemma; fertile spikelet sessile and awned, about 8 mm long including the dark brown, sharply pointed, densely and stiffly hairy barbed callus; awn up to 7 cm long, puberulous, twisted and geniculate, hygroscopically active so that the seed can bore itself into the ground. Caryopsis lanceolate, channelled on one side. The fruits ("seeds") of red oat grass fall individually to the ground. Fruits ("seeds") of red oat grass fall individually to the ground. (7)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Also native to Algeria, Andaman Is., Angola, Assam, Australia, Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Provinces, Cape Verde, Caprivi Strip, Central African Repu, Chad, China, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Free State, Ghana, Guinea, Hainan, Himalaya, India, Inner Mongolia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jawa, Kenya, Korea, KwaZulu-Natal, Laos, Lebanon-Syria, Lesotho, Lesser Sunda Is., Madagascar, Malawi, Malaya, Mali, Maluku, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nansei-shoto, Nepal, New Guinea, New South Wales, Nicobar Is., Nigeria, Northern Provinces, Northern Territory, Pakistan, Queensland, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Socotra, Somalia, South Australia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Thailand, Tibet, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Victoria, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe.
- A perennial growing primarily in the seasonally dry biome.
- Due to color and texture, it is an ornamental and landscape species in Australia

- Yields only moderate nutritive value—crude protein 2.8-12.4%. Digestibility varies from 35%-60%.

Parts used


- Grain eaten by people during times of famine.
- Indigenous Australians have used the grass for making flour. Grinding stones found in archaeological sites have suggested grinding of seeds and grains more than 30,000 years ago. Grass grains can be ground into flour and porridge. Seeds are said to taste like fresh green peas. The pleasant taste is lost when the grass matures, so, best to harvest seeds just as they are ripening. (5)
- In West Africa, root decoction used for treatment of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation).
- Fodder: An excellent fodder grass. Young growth is palatable to livestock.  Also a food source of several avian species.
(Considered a healthy forage for horses because of lower carbohydrate content, alleviating obesity and foot inflammation. (5) Of the five species of Themada in the Philippines, T. triandra is the most dominant and economically important forage species in native grasslands. (6)
- Thatch: In Uganda, hollow stems of the grass used as thatch in hut construction.  
- Fiber: Provides fiber for paper, basketry, and thatching. (2)
- Agronomy: It can survive on land depleted on farming; drought-resistant; tolerates extreme changes in temperature; helps restore already degraded grasslands; protects the soil and creates habitat for small animals, such as insects and invertebrates. (2)
- Ethnoveterinary: Used for the treatment of malaria.

No studies found.

Seeds in the cybermarket.

Ornamental cultivation.

September 2023

                                                 PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Themeda triandra florets / © D & H Seed Harvest Co / Noncommercial Use / click on image or link to go to source page / DHSeedHarvestCo
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Themeda triandra with tubercle hairs/ Harry Rise / CC Attribution 2.0 Generic  / click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photo: Themeda triandra flowering plants / M Fagg / Australian National Botanic Gardens / Noncomercial use / click on image or link to go to source page / Useful Tropical Plants
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Illustration: Themeda triandra - Line drawing / PlantNET / Noncomercial use / click on image or link to go to source page / PlantNET

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Themeda triandra / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Themeda triandra / Wikipedia

Red oat grass / Feedipedia
Themeda triandra / Lyn Fish, National Herbarium, Pretoria: 2004 / SANBI: PlantZAfrica
Kangaroo Wheat Grass / Rachel Fieldhouse: 2018 / Planting Seeds
Studies of the genus Themada / Percy E Sajise, Norma M Orlido, Lorenzo C Castillo, Joveno S Lales / Kalikasan: Philippine J Biol., 1974; 3: pp 71-82
Themeda triandra (PROSEA) /  J C Tothill / Pl@ntUse

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

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