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Useful Tropical Plants

Cenchrus biflorus

Roxb.

Poaceae

+ Synonyms

Cenchrus annularis Andersson

Cenchrus barbatus Schumach.

Cenchrus catharticus Delile

Cenchrus lapeta Ham. ex Stapf

Cenchrus leptacanthus A.Camus

Cenchrus niloticus Fig. & De Not.

Cenchrus perinvolucratus Stapf & C.E.Hubb.

Cenchrus rajasthanensis Kanodia & P.C.Nanda

Cenchrus triflorus Aitch.

Elymus caput-medusae Forssk.

Common Name:

Cenchrus biflorus
Seed head
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0

General Information

Cenchrus biflorus is a loosely tufted, annual grass, with ascending stems (culms), growing up to 1 metre tall[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is a very nutritious food, especially valuable in years where drought leads to the failure of cultivated crops.

Known Hazards

The plant's spiny inflorescences may injure humans and grazing animals[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
]. The reflexed hooks of the bristles on the burs of the inflorescence are pungent and adhere to clothing and pierce the skin[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

Botanical References


Range

Africa - through most of the continent from Algeria and Egypt south to S. Africa and Madagascar; through the Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan and India.

Habitat

Usually found on dry sandy soils and in cultivated, overgrazed or otherwise disturbed areas, at elevations up to 1,300 metres. It is extremely abundant in the Sahel and southern Sahara, where it may form massive stands[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.70 m
PollinatorsWind
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Cenchrus biflorus is mostly found in semi-arid and arid regions of the tropics and subtropics, where it grows at elevations up to 1,300 metres[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Its northernmost dispersal in Africa is considered to mark the limit of the Sahel[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
]. It is found in areas with a mean annual rainfall in the range 250 - 650mm[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It grows in areas that do not experience frost[
375
Title
Grassland Species - Profiles
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Gbase/Default.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse information on over 650 species of plants that grow in grassland, including trees, shrubs and perennial plants as well as grasses. Gives a brief description of the plant, its range and habitat and some of its uses.
].
Requires a sunny position in a light, well-drained soil[
375
Title
Grassland Species - Profiles
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Gbase/Default.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Terse information on over 650 species of plants that grow in grassland, including trees, shrubs and perennial plants as well as grasses. Gives a brief description of the plant, its range and habitat and some of its uses.
].
In spite of its usefulness, the plant is often considered to be a noxious weed of cultivation. It is aggressive in growth and tends to replace other grasses in mixed swards; the spiny inflorescences may injure humans and livestock and cause infection; these inflorescences adhere to hairs of animals and clothes, making possible the plant's wide dispersal[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].
The plant photosynthesizes by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
,
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - raw or cooked[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The seeds are pounded and eaten raw; made into porridge; or mixed and cooked with other foods[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A thin bread, known as 'kisra' is made from the grain in Sudan, whilst in Mauritania the ground grains are made into cakes[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. In India it is mixed with pearl millet to make bread, or mixed with sugar and ghee, and eaten as a children’s food[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The seed is produced in a spiny inflorescence. It is pin-head sized and normally remains within the husk; threshing to release it is not easy. One way reported is to lightly fire the straw prior to threshing[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].
When mature, the spiny inflorescences fall to the sand in great quantities, often clinging together in giant masses that roll along with the wind, growing as they go. People sweep them up with bunches of straw or with giant 'combs.' They throw them into a wooden mortar and pound and winnow away the troublesome spines, leaving behind the white, flavourful seeds[
321
Title
Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. 1 Grains.
Publication
 
Author
 
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1996
ISBN
0-309-04990-3
Description
Masses of information on about 70 species of plants that have been utilized for their edible seeds in Africa.
].
The seeds are highly nutritious, containing higher levels of protein and fats than most other cereals[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Analysis of material has been reported to contain 19 - 21% protein. Fat content at 8 - 9% is composed of: linoleic acid 42.5%, oleic acid 27.2%, palmitic acid 22.0%, and traces of others[
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
]. In areas of marginal subsistence the seeds are harvested regularly and form a regular part of the diet, but elsewhere, at least partly due to the plants spiny inflorescences, the seed is considered to be a famine food and is only eaten in times of need[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The grain is also made into a cooling drink[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
332
Title
The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
Burkil. H. M.
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
1985 - 2004
ISBN
 
Description
Brief descriptions and details of the uses of over 4,000 plants. A superb, if terse, resource, it is also available electronically on the Web - see http://www.aluka.org/
].

The leaves are eaten during famine in the Thar desert in India[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Medicinal

The root is an ingredient of traditional aphrodisiac prescriptions[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The fruits (?seed[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]) are diuretic and pectoral[
240
Title
Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Publication
 
Author
Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C.
Publisher
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi.
Year
1986
ISBN
-
Description
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Because the plant persists until the end of the dry season, it is sown against desertification in India[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Its presence is understood by nomadic peoples in Senegal to indicate soil suitable for growing millet and ground-nuts[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The hooked bristles of the inflorescence do show one beneficial attribute. Locust hoppers passing through belts of this grass become entangled with the hooks and many die, especially those immediately after ecdysis when their chitinous integument is still soft[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - sow in situ. The optimum temperature for seed germination is 35°c[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2018-12-16. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Cenchrus+biflorus>

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