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Dichanthium annulatum (Forsk.) Stapf.

Diaz bluestem, Marvel

Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.

  1. Uses
  2. Folk Medicine
  3. Chemistry
  4. Description
  5. Germplasm
  6. Distribution
  7. Ecology
  8. Cultivation
  9. Harvesting
  10. Yields and Economics
  11. Energy
  12. Biotic Factors
  13. References


Highly esteemed as fodder grass, especially in India, where it is eagerly eaten by cattle. It is fed green, when it is young, and when in flower; also suitable for silage and.hay if cut before flowering. Shows promise for reseeding degraded grasslands; also used for rough lawns.

Folk Medicine

No data available.


Per 100 g, the wet matter (25.0% DM) is reported to contain (ZMB) 10.4 g protein, 1.7 g fat, 75.8 g total carbohydrate, 34.9 g fiber, 12.1 g ash, 1.7 g EE, and 40.9 NFE (Gohl, 1981). Per 100 g, the hay is reported to contain (ZMB): 2.7 g protein, 1.2 g fat, 84.6 g total carbohydrates, 39.1 g fiber, 11.5 g ash, 1.2 g EE, and 45.4 g NFE (Gohl, 1981).


A highly variable perennial grass, forming dense tufts, with erect culms up to 1 m tall from a decumbent base, nodes pubescent; blades flat, 5-20 cm long, tapering to a fine point, inflorescence of subdigitately arranged racemes, these 3-6, sometimes more [var. bladhii (Retz.) Hack.], 3-7 cm long; not more than 3 pairs of the lowest spikelets sterile; peduncle of raceme glabrous; sessile and pedicellate spikelets alike, usually overlapping, the pedicels usually in part visible; lower glumes of pedicellate spikelets not armed with marginal bulbous-based bristles; lower glume of sessile spikelet oblong, obtuse or truncate, keel not winged, median vein present; sheaths terete; ligule longish; upper lemma the hyaline base of the awn.


Reported from the, African & Hindustani Centers of Diversity, diaz bluestem or cvs thereof is reported to tolerate drought, fire, high ph, salt, poor soil, and sand. In India it occurs in a great variety of forms, Pseudogamous apomict. Tetraploids with chromosome number 2n = 40 prevail in the main area of its distribution, but diploids have also been found in India. In S.E. Africa, plants are hexaploids. Diploid races of India are genetically isolated but tetraploids cross relatively easily and crosses with D. aristatum and D. caricosum have been obtained (Bogdan, 1977). (2n = 40)


Common throughout the plains and hills of India up to 1660 m; also in tropical and North Africa extending east through Southeast Asia to China, Australia, Fiji and New Guinea. Introduced to West Indies (Cuba, Haiti, and Puerto Rico).


Ranging from Subtropical Dry to Moist through Tropical Very Dry to Dry Forest Life Zones, Diaz bluestem is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 7.0 to 26.4 dm (mean of 6 cases = 12.3) annual temperature of 12.5 to 27.5°C (mean of 6 cases = 21.6) and pH of 5.5 to 7.8 (mean of 6 cases = 6.7). Found naturally in weedy lawns, sand dunes, fallow fields, roadsides, open wasteland, in hedges and pastures; often escaping and becoming weedy. Thrives in sheltered and disturbed areas, neglected areas near crop fields, and in grass fields where it tends to be a grass weed. Adapted to tropical and subtropical summer rainfall areas. Quite drought-resistant, and tolerates seasonal burning.


Propagated by seed. Plants are good seed producers but show great variability in their ability to germinate. Usually the very light seeds are spread by wind, allowing invasion of new areas. Experiments indicate that seeds produced by plants from protected areas give maximum germination of 95.3%, whereas those from shady areas give 84.6% and those from grazed fields, 36%. Seeds with glumes intact give 56.6% germination, and those with glumes removed give 94.6%. Due to glume removal, the embryo becomes exposed directly to light and moisture, causing higher germination. Also increased depth of planting of seed lowers the germination percentage. Seed germinates at a temperature range of 15-40°C; optimum, temperature for germination being 32°C (up to 78%). Seeds preheated to a sub-freezing temperature of -10°C for 15 days germinate 78.6% at room temperature (27°C +/-5°). Periodic tillering from the underground rhizome maintains the perennial habit of this grass. Forms open turf under grazing.


Cut before flowering, for use as hay and silage.

Yields and Economics

Dichanthuium. annulatum is regarded as one of the best pasture grasses in India and Burma, although the CP content of herbage is usually low to medium. Used extensively throughout the range of Southeast Asia and the East Indies. Sometimes used in the West Indies as well, especially for rough lawns. In India unclipped plots yield 8925 Kg/ha compared with 3225-3570 for clipped plots. (Gupta, 1980)


According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b) , annual productivity ranges from 7 to 17 MT/ha. Diaz bluestem yields more than 10 MThay/ha, and stands cutting well (Reed, 1976); Duke (1978) reports 8 MT hay/ha. Herbage in India, depending on soil moisture yields 2-20 MT/ha; in a semi-arid area in Cuba - 17 MT DM/ha (46% of yield from dry season with sprinkler irrigation); in India, 'Marvel 8' yielded 25 MT green fodder/ha under irrigation and 12 MT under dry land conditions (Bogdan, 1977).

Biotic Factors

The following fungi have been reported on this grass; Balansia sclerotica, Chaetostroma atrum, Curvularia andropogonis, C. lunata, Ellisiella caudata, Jamesdicksonia obesa, Physoderma dichanthicola, Puccinia cesatii, P. duthiae P. propinqua, Sclerospora dichanthicola, Sphacelotheca annulata, S. andropogonis-annulati, Tolyposporella obesa. Uredo susica, Uromyces andropogonis-annulati, U. clygni, Ustilago duthiei. It also parasitized by Striga lutea.


Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
last update July 10, 1996