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Kachi grass (Cymbopogon caesius)

Datasheet

Description
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Common names 

Kachi grass, common turpentine grass, lemon grass, buchu grass, eau de Cologne grass, ginger grass [English]; lemoengras, buchugras [Afrikaner.]; iMbanjana [Ndebele]; muWaa [Kalanga]; Moshanyna-oa-marallaneng [SeSotho]; imBubu, imBanjane [isiZulu]; cỏ sả [Vietnamese]

Synonyms 

Andropogon caesius Nees ex Hook. & Arn. ; Andropogon excavatus Hochst. ; Andropogon giganteus Hochst. ; Cymbopogon excavatus (Hochst.) Stapf ; Cymbopogon giganteus Chiov.

Related feed(s) 
Description 

Kachi grass (Cymbopogon caesius (Nees ex Hook. & Arn.) Stapf) is a perennial tropical grass that remains green long into the dry season. It has a low palatability due to the strong flavour of its aromatic leaves (Dougall et al., 1958).

Morphology

Cymbopogon caesius is a robust tufted perennial grass, reaching a height of 1.5-2 (-3) m. It has thick stems. The leaves of kachi grass are smooth, (5-) 9-37 (-50) cm in length and 7-28 mm wide, green but can have a purple hue. The leaf-blades are rounded at the base and very fine at the apex (Cope, 2002). The inflorescence is a racemose panicle, 7-70 cm long, reddish in colour. The racemes are in pairs with male pedicellated and female sessile spikelets (FAO, 2016).

Uses

Kachi grass contains essentials oils used as a mosquito repellent (Kalita et al., 2014). Because of its taste, which has been described as similar to turpentine or pepper, grazing animals only feed on it when no other forage is available (FAO, 2016; Dougall et al., 1958). Kachi grass is often used as a thatching grass. In Lesotho it is used to line grain baskets to keep rodents away (FAO, 2016).

Distribution 

Kachi grass is native to Eastern and Southern tropical Africa, Yemen, China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (USDA, 2016). It is found in disturbed or undisturbed vegetation: roadsides, pastures, cultivated fields, grasslands, savannas and forests (FAO, 2016). It occurs at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1500 m, usually where annual rainfall is above 500 mm, but also in drier areas. Cymbopogon caesius grows in a wide range of soils but does better on sandy or gravelly soils (FAO, 2016). It has been used for the revegetation of mine dumps of chrysotile (an asbestos-like mineral) contaminated with heavy metals (Morgenthal et al., 2004).

Forage management 

Cymbopogon caesius quickly propagates through seeds or runners. When it is propagated by seed, it is important to maintain good soil moisture, if necessary through irrigation until germination, after which watering can be subsequently reduced (Mashau, 2015). When it is vegetatively propagated, shoots arise from lower axillary buds, grow into prostrate branches and spread on the soil surface in all directions. From the nodes, adventitious roots arise and penetrate into the soil (Husain et al., 2009). 

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Cymbopogon caesius has a low nutritive value, with a protein content usually lower than 10% of DM and a crude fibre content between 23-33% of DM.

Potential constraints 

Kachi grass is considered non-toxic, although its essential oils make it unpalatable (FAO, 2016).

Ruminants 

Information on Cymbopogon caesius is limited as it is rarely studied alone. In Kenya, an early report noted that kachi grass was of low nutritive value, low palatability and grazed only if thinly scattered among other grasses (Dougall et al., 1958). More recently, it was cited in a farmer survey in the Uluguru mountains in Tanzania as one of the main grass species consumed by goats (Ingratubun et al., 2000), and as one of the grasses grazed by cattle in the Bắc Giang province of North-East Vietnam (Hoang Chung et al., 2011). In Mauritania, it was cited as palatable and occasionally eaten by cattle, goats, sheep, and camels (Soule, 2006). In the Chifra District of Afar Regional State, Ethiopia, Cymbopogon caesius was cited as a major and desirable grass species (Abdulatife et al., 2015).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 40.2 10.7 27.9 46.8 3  
Crude protein % DM 6.3 2.6 4.3 11.2 6  
Crude fibre % DM 26.4 4.2 22.9 33.3 5  
NDF % DM 62.1         *
ADF % DM 31.3         *
Lignin % DM 3.5         *
Ether extract % DM 4.1       1  
Ash % DM 9.1 2.6 6.5 13.0 6  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.1         *
               
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 9.5   2.9 16.0 2  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 0.4   0.0 0.8 2  
Potassium g/kg DM 72.6       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.0       1  
Zinc mg/kg DM 470       1  
Copper mg/kg DM 10       1  
Iron mg/kg DM 200       1  
               
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 69.0         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 66.0         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 12.0         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.8         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Dougall et al., 1958; Sen et al., 1965; Tefera et al., 2009

Last updated on 23/09/2016 14:50:42

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Thiollet H., Tran G., 2016. Kachi grass (Cymbopogon caesius). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/470 Last updated on November 23, 2016, 11:43

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant)
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