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Eragrostis pallens Hack.

 Bull. Herb. Boissier 3:392 (1895).
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 Poaceae (Gramineae)
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Chromosome number  
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 Eragrostis dura Stapf (1898).
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Vernacular names  
 Broom grass, broom love grass (En).
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Origin and geographic distribution  
 Eragrostis pallens occurs in southern Africa, from Angola, Zambia and Mozambique through Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to South Africa.
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 The stems of Eragrostis pallens are popular for forming the interior of the coils in basketry. The coarse stems are used to hit the string of one-stringed musical instruments to make them sound, such as the okambulu-mbumbua of the Ovambo in Namibia and Angola, in which a gourd serves as the resonance box. Eragrostis pallens is commonly used in northern Botswana and in Ovamboland for thatching and for brooms. As it is a hard and poorly palatable grass, it is rarely eaten by livestock.
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Production and international trade  
 Eragrostis pallens is only used and traded locally.
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 Nutritive value tests in Namibia of 2 samples of leaf sheaths and young growth indicated: crude protein 3.2–3.6%, P 0.01–0.03%, Ca 0.20–1.1%, organic matter 95.4–95.8%, dry matter 95.8–96.4%, crude fibre 37.2%, acid detergent fibre (ADF) 47.0%, neutral detergent fibre (NDF) 81.3%, in-vitro digestibility 31.5–41.7%, metabolizable energy 4.2–5.9%.
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 Perennial, densely tufted grass without rhizome and usually without stolons; stems up to 200 cm tall, 2–4 mm in diameter, robust, erect, branched or unbranched, glabrous at the nodes, without glands. Leaves alternate, mostly at the base of the stem; basal leaf sheaths thinly pilose below or glabrous, firmly papery, terete or lightly laterally compressed, without glands, persistent; ligule a line of hairs; blade linear, 7–40(–100) cm × 3–5(–8) mm, involute, glabrous or thinly pilose, without glands. Inflorescence a narrowly oblong to broadly ovate panicle 8–45 cm long, open, the spikelets subsessile or shortly pedicelled (0.5–1 mm) on the racemose primary branches or on secondary branchlets, the primary branches ascending or spreading, not in whorls, terminating in a fertile spikelet, glabrous in the axils, without glands. Spikelets solitary, narrowly oblong to linear, 5–21 mm × 1.5–2 mm, slightly laterally compressed, with 6–36 florets, the florets disarticulating from the apex downwards, the rachilla fragile; glumes somewhat unequal, lower glume 0.5–1.5 mm long, reaching to about the middle of the adjacent lemma, slightly keeled, narrowly lanceolate to narrowly elliptic in profile, glabrous, subacute or obtuse at the apex, upper glume 1–2 mm long, reaching to about 2/3 the way along the adjacent lemma, slightly keeled, oblong-lanceolate to oblong-elliptical in profile, glabrous, obtuse at the apex; lemma c. 2 mm long, slightly keeled, ovate-elliptical in profile, subcoriaceous with obscure lateral veins, more or less appressed to the rachilla, those in opposite rows somewhat imbricate and more or less concealing the rachilla, pallid or dark green, glabrous, obtuse at the apex; palea glabrous on the flanks, the keels slender, wingless, scaberulous; anthers 3, 1–1.5 mm long. Fruit an elliptical caryopsis (grain) 0.5–1 mm long.
In South Africa Eragrostis pallens flowers in (July–)December–May.
Eragrostis is a large genus comprising about 360 species, and is distributed in the tropics and subtropics.
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Growth and development  
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 Eragrostis pallens occurs from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude in floodplain and dambo grasslands, sandveld and wooded short grasslands with mopane or with mixed deciduous trees, on Kalahari sand and other sandy soils. It is a climax grass of the central and northern Kalahari and often occurs in association with Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC. and Burkea africana Hook.
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Propagation and planting  
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 In South Africa Eragrostis pallens is classified as a grass of little grazing value. It is a strong competitor and increases under overgrazing, thereby reducing the quality of grazing land.
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Genetic resources and breeding  
 Eragrostis pallens is widespread and a locally dominant, strongly competitive grass. It is not in danger of genetic erosion.
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 The stems of Eragrostis pallens are likely to remain of local value for basketry, thatching and broom-making.
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Major references  
 • Cope, T.A., 1998. A synopsis of Eragrostis Wolf (Poaceae) in the Flora Zambesiaca area. Kew Bulletin 53(1): 129–164.
• Cope, T., 1999. Gramineae (Arundineae, Eragrostideae, Leptureae and Cynodonteae). In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 261 pp.
• Rodin, R.J., 1985. The ethnobotany of the Kwanyama Ovambos. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 9: 1–163.
• van Oudtshoorn, F., 1999. Guide to grasses of Southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 288 pp.
• van Wyk, B.E. & Gericke, N., 2000. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 351 pp.
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Other references  
 • Dörgeloh, W.G., 1999. Chemical quality of the burnt and non-burnt grass layer in the Nylsvlei Nature Reserve, South Africa. African Journal of Ecology 37(2): 168–179.
• Gibbs Russell, G.E., Watson, L., Koekemoer, M., Smook, L., Barker, N.P., Anderson, H.M. & Dallwitz, M.J., 1990. Grasses of Southern Africa: an identification manual with keys, descriptions, distributions, classification and automated identification and information retrieval from computerized data. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No 58. National Botanic Gardens / Botanical Research Institute, Pretoria, South Africa. 437 pp.
• Kgathi, D.L., Mmopelwa, G. & Mosepele, K., 2005. Natural resources assessment in the Okavango Delta, Botswana: case studies of some key resources. Natural Resources Forum 29: 70–81.
• Klaassen, E.S. & Craven, P., 2003. Checklist of grasses in Namibia. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No 20. SABONET, Pretoria, South Africa. 130 pp.
• Müller, M.A.N., 1984. Grasses of South West Africa/Namibia. Directorate of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Agriculture and Nature Conservation, Windhoek, Namibia. 287 pp.
• Quattrocchi, U., 2006. CRC world dictionary of grasses: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. 3 volumes. CRC, Taylor & Francis, Boca Raton, Florida, United States. 2383 pp.
• SEPASAL, 2003. Eragrostis pallens. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. ceb/sepasal/. Accessed May 2011.
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L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Correct citation of this article  
 Oyen, L.P.A., 2011. Eragrostis pallens Hack. [Internet] Record from PROTA4U. Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. <>. Accessed .

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General importance
Geographic coverage Africa
Geographic coverage World
Forage/feed use
Fibre use
Climate change

Eragrostis pallens

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