Sporobolus spicatus (Vahl) Kunth

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Synonyms: Agrostis spicata Vahl
Common names: Spiky dropseed (English)
Status: Native
Caespitose, mat-forming perennial; culms up to 60(75) cm tall, decumbent or erect, branched or unbranched, wiry, often with fascicles of shoots at the nodes, these arching over and rooting to form long looping stolons; basal leaf sheaths chartaceous, glabrous, terete, persistent; leaf laminas 5–30 cm × 1–4 mm, glaucous, stiff, usually involute, rarely flat, glabrous, scabrid on the margins, pungent and often painfully spiny.Panicle (1.5)3–22 cm long, smoothly cylindrical; primary branches not in whorls, 1–3(5) mm long, closely appressed to the axis, glabrous, eglandular, the spikelets densely packed along the whole length.Spikelets 1.6–2.7 mm long, pallid or pale green; inferior glume 1/4–1/2 the length of the spikelet, lanceolate to broadly ovate, hyaline, nerveless, glabrous, truncate to subacute at the apex; superior glume 2/3–4/5 the length of the spikelet, narrowly ovate, rarely narrowly lanceolate and as long as the spikelet, hyaline, 1-nerved, glabrous, acute at the apex; lemma as long as the spikelet, oblong-elliptic; anthers 3, 0.9–1.3 mm long.Grain 0.7–1.2 mm long, elliptic, ± triangular in section.
Derivation of specific name: spicatus: arranged in a spike.
Habitat: Mostly in saline and alkaline clayey or sandy soils of shallow pans, floodplains and dambos, often locally abundant or in pure stands in saline patches in floodplain grassland
Altitude range: 600 - 1160 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: drier parts of Africa from the Mediterranean coast southwards to South Africa, and eastwards through Southwest Asia to India
Malawi distribution: N
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Cope, T.A. (1999). Poaceae Flora Zambesiaca 10(2) Pages 181 - 183. (Includes a picture).

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 110.

Roodt, V. (2015). Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding savanna Struik Nature, South Africa Pages 198 - 199. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 146.

Timberlake, J.R. & Childes, S.L. (2004). Biodiversity of the Four Corners Area: Technical Reviews Volume Two (Chapter 5-15) Appendix 5-1: Plant Checklist Occasional Publications in Biodiversity 15 Page 192.

Other sources of information about Sporobolus spicatus:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Sporobolus spicatus
Flora of Caprivi: Sporobolus spicatus
Flora of Zambia: Sporobolus spicatus
Flora of Zimbabwe: Sporobolus spicatus

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Sporobolus spicatus
African Plant Database: Sporobolus spicatus
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Sporobolus spicatus
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Sporobolus spicatus
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Sporobolus spicatus
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Sporobolus spicatus
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Sporobolus spicatus
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Sporobolus spicatus
iNaturalist: Sporobolus spicatus
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Sporobolus spicatus
JSTOR Plant Science: Sporobolus spicatus
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Sporobolus spicatus
Kew Monocotyledon checklist: Sporobolus spicatus
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Sporobolus spicatus
Plants of the World Online: Sporobolus spicatus
Tropicos: Sporobolus spicatus
Wikipedia: Sporobolus spicatus

Copyright: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2014-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Malawi: Species information: Sporobolus spicatus.
https://www.malawiflora.com/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=105590, retrieved 25 March 2023

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