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Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeuschel

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeuschel




Lagurus cylindricus L., Imperata arundinacea Cirillo.

Vernacular Names


Lalang, alang-alang.


Cogon grass, satintail.


Alang-alang, ilalang, lalang (General).

Papua New Guinea

Kunai (Pidgin), kurukuru (Barakau, Central Province).


Kogon (Tagalog), gogon (Bikol), bulum (Ifugao).






Hnha:z kh'a:.


Ya-kha, laa laeng, koe hee (Karen, Mae Hong Son).


C[or] tranh.



Geographical Distributions

Imperata cylindrica is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia; occurring to a lesser extent in North, Central and South America, and also in warm temperate areas, being recorded at latitudes of 45º in New Zealand and Japan.


Imperata cylindrica is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial that grows up to 120(-300) cm tall. The culms are below the nodes and usually with a crown of long slender hairs.

The leaf sheaths of basal leaves are coriaceous, and hairless or finely hairy. The leaf blade measures 12-80 cm x 0.5-2 cm.

The inflorescence is a spike-like panicle of 10-30 cm long. The floret is with 4-5-veined upper glume and 2 stamens.

Ecology / Cultivation

Imperata cylindrica is often found in areas receiving more than 1000 mm rainfall per year, but has been recorded in sites receiving 500-5000 mm annual rainfall. It can withstand waterlogging but not continuous flooding. It grows at altitudes from sea level up to 2000 m in several countries and has been recorded at 2700 m in Indonesia. Although I. cylindrica may have originally been restricted to infertile and acid soils in the tropics, it has become widespread through man's intervention, particularly following slashing and burning of forest lands. Its resistance to burning is associated with its vigorous underground rhizomes, but seedlings are also established after burning. It is found in a wide range of habitats, including the dry sand dunes of seashores and deserts, as well as swamps and river valleys. It grows in grasslands, cultivated areas, and plantations. It quickly invades abandoned farmland and occurs on railway and highway embankments and in deforested areas. It is regarded as a light-loving plant and will not persist under heavy shade in plantations. Although it grows in a wide range of soil types of widely differing fertility, it grows most vigorously in wet soil of reasonable fertility. It has been reported to grow on soils with pH 4.0-7.5. It can even tolerate very hot, steamy and sulphurous conditions near an active volcanic fumarole or vent. I. cylindrica is reported to have allelopathic properties that adversely affect the growth of other plants.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1.

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