Napier Grass
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Napier Grass
P Naturalized Photo: Nishant Chauhan
Common name: Napier Grass, Elephant grass, Uganda grass • Hindi: हाथी घास
Botanical name: Cenchrus purpureus    Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Synonyms: Pennisetum purpureum, Pennisetum pallescens, Pennisetum flexispica

Napier Grass is a robust perennial forming large, bamboo-like clumps, spreading by short rhizomes; extensive root system penetrating to 4.5 m. Stems are initially erect/geniculately rising up, 2-4 m tall, 1-2 cm diameter near the base and branched towards the top; outer stems becoming prostrate extending to 7.5 m and developing runner-like characteristics, forming plantlets and rooting from lower nodes. Leaf blades are green, sometimes purple, linear, 30-120 cm long, 1-5 cm wide, tip narrowed; lower surface hairless, upper surface bristly or papillose-hairy at base, midrib prominent. Inflorescence is a bristly spike-like panicle 7-30 cm long, 1.5-3 cm wide (excluding bristles), dense, usually yellow-brown in color, more rarely greenish or purplish; axis round, velvet-hairy, bearing deciduous clusters of 1-5 spikelets subtended by an involucre, deciduous with the fertile spikelets; involucral bristles 8-16 mm long, numerous, one prominently longer bristle, 1-4 cm long; spikelets 5-7 mm long, end spikelet fertile, nearly stalkless, laterals when present staminate with 1-2 mm flower-stalks. Napier Grass is native to Sahara to Tropical Africa, to Arabian Peninsula. It is naturalized in South America, South Asia including the Himalayas.
Medicinal uses: Raw leaf blades are utilized in ethnoveterinary medicine practices for treating a range of animals’ diseases mainly post-delivery problems in cows and buffaloes.

Identification credit: Nishant Chauhan Photographed in Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh.

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