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Elephant Grass (Cenchrus purpureus)


Pennisetum purpureum,also known as Napier grass,elephant grass or Uganda grass,is a species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands.It has low water and nutrient requirements,and therefore can make use of otherwise uncultivated lands.Historically,this wild species has been used primarily for grazing;recently,however,it has been incorporated into a pest management strategy.This technique involves the desired crop being planted alongside a 'push' plant,which repels pests,in combination with a 'pull' crop around the perimeter of the plot,which draw insects out of the plot.Napier grass has shown potential at attracting stemborer moths (a main cause of yield loss in Africa) away from maize and hence is the "pull" crop.This strategy is much more sustainable,serves more purposes and is more affordable for farmers than insecticide use.In addition to this,Napier grasses improve soil fertility,and protect arid land from soil erosion.It is also utilized for firebreaks,windbreaks,in paper pulp production and most recently to produce bio-oil,biogas and charcoal.Pennisetum purpureum is a monocot C4 perennial grass in the Poaceae family.It is tall and forms in robust bamboo-like clumps.It is a heterozygous plant,but seeds rarely fully form;more often it reproduces vegetatively through stolons which are horizontal shoots above the soil that extend from the parent plant to offspring.This species has high biomass production,at about 40 tons/ha/year and can be harvested 4-6 times per year.Additionally it requires low water and nutrient inputs.Napier can be propagated through seeds,however as seed production is inconsistent,collection is difficult.Alternatively,it can be planted through stem cuttings of the stolons.The cuttings can be planted by inserting them along furrows 75 cm apart,both along and between rows.

Taxonomic tree

  • Domain: Eukarya

    • Kingdom: Plantae

      • Phylum: Magnoliophyta

        • Class: Liliopsida

          • Order: Poales

            • Family: Poaceae

              • Genus: Cenchrus