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Ischaemum muticum L.

Ischaemum muticum L.




Ischaemum repens Roxb., Ischaemum glabratum Presl, Andropogon repens (Roxb.) Steud.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Rumput kemarau, rumput tembaga jantan.
English Seashore centipede grass, drought grass.
Indonesia Suket resap (Javanese), rumput kerupet (Bangka).
Thailand Va-waitham (Eastern).
Vietnam Mô[m] trui.

Geographical Distributions

Ischaemum muticum is indigenous to South and Southeast Asia. It is widely distributed in Malaysia, particularly near the sea and in sandy places, and in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Burma (Myanmar), and some islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It has been introduced to West Africa and Australia.


I. muticum is a leafy, much branched, with stoloniferous spreading perennial, rooting at the nodes where they touch the soil, sometimes scrambling several metres high among and over shrubs. The stolons measure up to 5 m long or more, with numerous joints and measuring up to 6 mm in diametre which are covered by slightly overlapping pale or purple leaf-sheaths with extremely short leaf-blades and resemble culm-sheaths in bamboos. The flowering culms can reach up to 60 cm tall, hairless and often red.

The leaf-sheath is ciliate along the outer margin. The ligule is truncate, small and with a short ciliate. The leaf-blade is ovate-lance-shaped to linear, measuring 2-18 cm x 0.5-2 cm, acute at the apex, cordate at the base and narrowing into a short pseudo-petiole.

The inflorescence is terminal, composed of 2 racemes closely pressed together where each of it is1.5-5.5 cm long and rarely fully exserted. The spikelets are arranged in pairs which are one sessile and one pedicelled. They are on one side of a triangular rachis and straw-coloured. The sessile spikelet is hairless. The lower glume is distinctly reticulately nerved near the apex and enfolds the spikelet base while the upper glume is with a strongly keeled acute apex. The lower floret is male or hermaphrodite while the upper floret is hermaphrodite. The pedicelled spikelet is hairy. The lower glume is chartaceous and with a winged keel while the upper glume is subchartaceous. The upper lemma of both spikelets is a short-awned where the awn is included in the spikelet.

Ecology / Cultivation

I. muticum is an opportunistic and agressive coloniser of open or disturbed habitats and can develop into huge thickets in drainage canals and ditches. On the edges of secondary forest, the plants grow very large and scrambling among bushes. It tolerates wet conditions, especially flooding, and short dry periods. It is usually found in areas receiving more than 1500 mm rainfall annually. Its presence is sometimes regarded as indicative of poor soil fertility.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4: Forages.

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