Acroceras macrum Stapf
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
A very palatable grass and rather extensively cultivated as pasture and hay,
especially in the highyield areas of South Africa. Forms dense cover used for
grazing and haymaking. Unsuitable for leys, as it is difficult to eradicate.
Very useful as fodder source during dry season. The grass has been described,
perhaps hyperbolically, as "the king of fodder grassesa truly revolutionary
grass" (Rhind and Goodenough, 1979).
No data available.
Per 100 g, the forage is reported to contain 8.7 g protein, nearly 6 g fat,
75.4 g total carbohydrate, 30.7 g fiber, 450 mg Ca, and 110 mg P (Bogdan,
1977). Other reports put the crude protein as high as 22%; one report gives
21.3% for leaves, and 7.9% for the stems; crude fiber was given as 30.0% for
leaves, 38.5% for stems. On a zero moisture basis, South African hay was 8.5%
CP, 31.8% CF, 6.1% ash, 1.8% EE and 51.8% NFE (Gohl, 1981). Many more
nutritional details are tabulated in the excellent review by Rhind and
Perennial grass, spreading by creeping slender rhizomes and stolons; culms up
to 70 cm or more, sometimes prostrate at base; leaves expanded, to 20 cm long
and 12 mm broad, glabrous or minutely hairy, rounded or almost cordate at base,
tapering to sharp point, bright green; panicle up to 20 cm long, spikelike, of
25 racemes up to 8 cm long, the lower 59 cm apart; spikelets light green,
acuminate or obtuse, 45 mm long, awnless, glabrous, with conspicuous indurate
rounded appendages at laterally compressed apex of glumes and lemmas; lower
glume more than half as long as spikelet, 3-nerved; upper glume 5-nerved;
ligule a membrane fringed with short hairs, sometimes greatly reduced. 4x = 36.
Reported from the Africa Center of Diversity, Nile grass or cvs thereof is
reported to tolerate low pH, photoperiod, sand, savanna, virus, and
waterlogging. It does not tolerate drought very well. Susceptibility to
diseases and an apparent lack of seed-setting ability were partially overcomeby
breeding programs initiated at Cedara. Tetraploid (2n= 36), pentaploid (2n= 45),
and hexaploid (2n= 54) chromosome races occur. The species is self sterile, but
certain combinations of strains of similar chromosome number and flowering data
highly cross fertile (Rhind and Goodenough, 1976). (2n= 36)
Widely distributed in Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa, also in Angola and
South West Africa; introduced elsewhere e.g., Australia, Surinam, and Trinidad.
Grows naturally in seasonally flooded valley bottoms in areas with 92150 cm
rainfall annually. It is indifferent to day length and will flower equally
readily in long or short photoperiods. Flourishes on poorly drained or
seasonally flooded land, and does not grow well under dry conditions. It has
been successful on loams, sandy loams, and clay loams. Ranging from Warm
Temperate Dry through Tropical Moist Forest Life Zones, Nile grass is reported
to tolerate annual precipitation of 8 to 27 dm (mean of 4 cases = 13), annual
temperature of 16° to 26°C (mean of 4 cases = 17), and pH of 4.3 to 7.3 (mean
of 4 cases = 5.5). Rhind and Goodenough (1979) say it favors areas at elevation
ca 600 to 2000 m, annual precipitation of 7.515 dm where the dry season is not
Propagated by splits or cuttings of rhizomes or stolons. In some areas under
humid conditions, grass is cut at hay stage and scattered over surface of land
and then covered by a disc-harrow, as in Trinidad. Planted in holes 45 x 45 cm
apart. Grass should be alllowed a full year to become established. Although
its growth habit, having both rhizomes and stolons, serves for vegetative
propagation and for exploring new ground, it also allows for carbohydrate
storage in the rhizomes and brings some of the growing points below ground
level where they are more effectively protected from frost, drought and
burning. Has been used for improving natural moist pastures by planting splits
or rhizome cuttings into existing natural grassland or plowed grassland
following an arable crop. It was persistent although not very productive in
Kenya and South Africa, and was reasonably successful in Rhodesia, Surinam and
Swaziland (Bogdan, 1977). Seeds have a dormancy characteristic, germination
improving after 9 months storage.
Grazed or cut for hay. Grass should be mown towards end of rainy season
(summer) for hay or silage. Good aftermath is available for grazing during dry
autumn and winter months when it is most valuable. A further flush can be
grazed in spring during the early season.
Cut for hay, it yields 58 MT/ha (Bogdan, 1977). In one Rhodesian trial, it
was one of the lowest yielders, at 7 MT/ha. Yields may attain 12.5 T/ha per
season. In Natal, it averaged 9.8 MT/ha/a for three seasons (Theron and
Arnott, 1979). A valuable pasture and fodder grass in areas of adaptation
especially in humid tropical areas, as South Africa.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981), annual productivity ranges from
4 to 12 MT/ha. Rhind and Goodenough (1979) report 2 to 18 MT DM (the latter is
Swaziland). Such DM (dry matter) can be converted to energy by burning or
conversion to alcohol or methane. According to Gohl (1981), ME (metabolizable
energy) is 2.35 megacalories per kilogram of dry matter in hay.
The fungi, Phyllosticta sp. (leaf spot) and Ustilago syntherismae
(smut) have been reported on this grass.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Bogdan, 1977
- Duke, 1981
- Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
- Rhind, J.M.L.C. and Goodenough, D.C.W. 1979. Acroceras macrum Stapf.
(Nile Grass)a review. Proc. Grassland Soc. S. Africa 14:2736.
- Theron, E.P. and Arnott, J.K. 1979. Notes on the performance of Acroceras
macrum Stapf cv Cedara select in Natal. Proc Grassland Soc. S. Africa
Last update December 19, 1997