Prota 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 57: 187 (1921).
Origin and geographic distribution
Panicum kalaharense is distributed in Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
The grain of Panicum kalaharense is eaten by the Wambo people in Namibia. Panicum kalaharense is also a pasture grass.
As a pasture grass Panicum kalaharense is recorded as being moderately palatable when young.
Robust, perennial grass up to 2.5 m tall, tufted or with a short rootstock; stem (culm) pubescent at base. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; leaf sheath densely hairy along margins in upper part; blade linear, 20–50 cm × 2–8 mm, acuminate, flat or rolled, tough, upper surface densely covered with short hairs. Inflorescence a broadly ovoid panicle 15–27 cm long, moderately to much branched. Spikelet ovoid, 3–4 mm long, 2-flowered; lower glume broadly ovate, half to two-thirds the length of the spikelet, acute or acuminate, 3–5-veined, upper glume 5–9-veined; lower floret male, lemma 7–9-veined, palea well-developed, upper floret female, lemma and palea pale or dark, glossy; stamens 3; ovary superior, stigmas 2. Fruit a caryopsis (grain), ellipsoid, compressed.
Panicum comprises about 470 species and is mainly distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, with some species extending to temperate regions. Panicum kalaharense follows the C4-cycle photosynthetic pathway.
Panicum kalaharense is considered to be drought resistant. It is locally common in grassland and savanna habitats on sandy soils in areas with an annual rainfall of 300–600 mm, at 500–1200 m altitude. It is also found in disturbed locations such as roadsides.
The grain of Panicum kalaharense is collected from the wild.
Genetic resources and breeding
A small collection of 3 accessions of Panicum kalaharense is held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Panicum kalaharense is an unimportant local source of food and forage, and will probably remain so. Little is known about this species and more information would be useful, particularly on its food and fodder quality.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Panicum kalaharense Mez In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.