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
2–5 racemes up to 8 cm long, the lower 5–9 cm apart; spikelets light green,
acuminate or obtuse, 4–5 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.
Grows naturally in seasonally flooded valley bottoms in areas with 92–150 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
600 to 2000 m, annual precipitation of 7.5–15 dm where the dry season is not too
Widely distributed in Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa, also in Angola and
South West Africa; introduced elsewhere e.g., Australia, Surinam, and Trinidad.
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 grasses—a truly revolutionary
grass" (Rhind and Goodenough, 1979).
- 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 14:27–36.
- 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 14:23–25.