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Urochloa trichopus (Hochst.) Stapf

Oliv., Fl. trop. Afr. 9(4): 589 (1920).
Poaceae (Gramineae)
Chromosome number
2n = 14, 28
Origin and geographic distribution
Urochloa trichopus is distributed in the more dry regions throughout tropical Africa. It also occurs in Yemen and has been introduced into Brazil and India.
The grain of Urochloa trichopus is sometimes gathered for food, e.g. in Kordofan (Sudan), Tanzania, Botswana and Zimbabwe. In Botswana it is ground into flour, which may be cooked with water, milk or melon juice or made into cake; it is also used for making beer.
Urochloa trichopus is valued as a fodder in semi-arid regions; in Brazil and India it is a forage grass.
The fodder value of Urochloa trichopus plants in the Sahel is: crude protein 10.7%, crude fibre 28.5%, crude fat 1.4%, nitrogen-free extractives 45.2%, P 0.19%, K 4.69%, Ca 0.38%, Mg 0.37% and Na 0.02%. In Botswana the crude protein content of Urochloa trichopus ranges from 6.2% in the dry season (July) to 10.4% in the rainy season (January), and the dry matter digestibility ranges from 41% in July to 57% in January. Information on the nutritional characteristics of the grain is not available.
Coarse, tufted annual grass up to 1.7 m tall; stem (culm) geniculately ascending, often rooting at the lower nodes. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; leaf sheath glabrous to slightly pubescent; ligule a ciliate membrane; blade linear, 5–30 cm × 5–20 mm, acuminate, glabrous or hairy. Inflorescence composed of 3–20 racemes borne on a central axis 4–20 cm long; racemes 1–14 cm long, bearing solitary spikelets on a narrowly winged rachis. Spikelet ovate, 2.5–5.5 mm long, glabrous or less often hairy, acuminate, 2-flowered with lower floret male and upper bisexual; lower glume elliptical-oblong, slightly shorter than spikelet, 3-veined, upper glume as long as the spikelet, 5(–7)-veined with cross-veins; lemma acuminate, leathery, 5-veined, with a mucro; palea shorter than lemma; stamens 3; ovary superior, with 2 plumose stigmas. Fruit a strongly flattened caryopsis (grain).
Urochloa comprises about 12 species distributed in the Old World tropics, mainly in Africa. It is distinguished from the related Brachiaria by the shape and orientation of the spikelets but the boundary between the two genera is unclear due to a number of intermediate species. It has been proposed that Brachiaria be nearly completely reduced to Urochloa, which would increase the size of Urochloa to about 120 species, with a pantropical distribution. Within Urochloa the species are sometimes difficult to separate. Urochloa trichopus is the annual counterpart of the perennial Urochloa mosambicensis (Hack.) Dandy, which possesses dormant buds at the base.
Urochloa trichopus occurs from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude in semi-arid climates, in grassland and savanna woodland; also in disturbed locations and as an arable weed.
Urochloa trichopus is collected from the wild. In Botswana stored grain is attacked by weevils, ants and rats, but it generally stores well. In Botswana the grain is considered difficult to thresh and pound. Urochloa trichopus is considered a weed in Ethiopia.
Genetic resources and breeding
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, holds 5 accessions of Urochloa trichopus (3 from Ethiopia; 2 from Mali). Three accessions from Ethiopia are held at Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia; 2 accessions from Tanzania in the Australian Tropical Crops & Forages Genetic Resources Centre, Biloela, Queensland. In view of its wide distribution, Urochloa trichopus is not threatened by genetic erosion.
Urochloa trichopus is a useful source of food and fodder in semi-arid regions of tropical Africa, but is unlikely to increase in importance. For use as a cereal, the small grain size and difficulty in processing are considered serious limitations. Its role as a pasture grass will probably remain modest compared to that of its perennial and more persistent counterpart Urochloa mosambicensis.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
• Clayton, W.D. & Renvoize, S.A., 1982. Gramineae (Part 3). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. pp. 451–898.
• 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.
• Modiakgotla, E., Tacheba, G., Mbulawa, T., Makhwaje, E. & Nkhori, S., 1999. Use of Urochloa trichopus and Dactiloctenium species in Ngamiland. Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture, Gaborone, Botswana. 11 pp.
• Phillips, S., 1995. Poaceae (Gramineae). In: Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 7. Poaceae (Gramineae). The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. 420 pp.
Other references
• Bartha, R., 1970. Fodder plants in the Sahel zone of Africa. Weltforum Verlag, München, Germany. 306 pp.
• Clayton, W.D., 1972. Gramineae. In: Hepper, F.N. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, part 2. pp. 277–574.
• Clayton, W.D., 1989. Gramineae (Paniceae, Isachneae and Arundinelleae). In: Launert, E. & Pope, G.V. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 10, part 3. Flora Zambesiaca Managing Committee, London, United Kingdom. 231 pp.
• Cope, T.A., 1995. Poaceae (Gramineae). In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 4. Angiospermae (Hydrocharitaceae-Pandanaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 148–270.
• Hanelt, P. & Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (Editors), 2001. Mansfeld’s encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops (except ornamentals). 1st English edition. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 3645 pp.
• Longhi-Wagner, H.M. & de Oliveira, R.P., 2002. New grass records for Bahia State, Brazil. Kew Bulletin 57: 971–977.
• Pratchett, D., 1983. Botswana. Recent range research findings. World Animal Review 46: 18–25.
• Trouin, M., 1970. Contribution to the caryologic study of some grasses of Darfur (Sudan Republic). Annales de la Faculté des Sciences de Marseille 43(2): 221–226.
• Veldkamp, J.F., 1996. Brachiaria, Urochloa (Gramineae - Paniceae) in Malesia. Blumea 41: 413–437.
M. Brink
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
G. Belay
Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organization, Debre Zeit Center, P.O. Box 32, Debre Zeit, Ethiopia
Associate editors
J.M.J. de Wet
Department of Crop Sciences, Urbana-Champaign, Turner Hall, 1102 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801, United States
O.T. Edje
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Swaziland, P.O. Luyengo, Luyengo, Swaziland
E. Westphal
Ritzema Bosweg 13, 6706 BB Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2006. Urochloa trichopus (Hochst.) Stapf In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.