Animal feed resources information system

Big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).


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Common names 

Big-leaf bristle grass, broad-leafed bristle grass, bigleaf bristlegrass, buffalo grass, bush buffalo grass, forest buffalo grass, buffel grass, horse grass, corn of horses, fine sword grass, macopo grass, palm grass, ribbon bristle grass, ribbon grass, broad-leaved setaria, broad-leaved bristle grass [English]; omacelele, omucelele, muselele [Angola]; ekoko enumbà pwipwi [Cameroon]; awaha, wadjere [Ghana]; gbogola [Guinea]; abobonia, aboigna, aboya, aguan, denzenbré, djuaya, hintsun, kotsinté, maka, moya moya [Ivory Coast]; ka [Liberia]; akarakà, oka esin, okaeshin, okaesin, okeshin, okesin [Nigeria]; anfonte, bobo, bobo yamba, foni, foyondo, furudevakali, hos gras, kafonte, kegbil, kebilkelen, keroi, koseaxuli, mbobo, mbowi, mbowo, mbowola, mboworo,ndogobeni, njopo bowi, tira, tukodobi, wogowagana, xoriexuli [Sierra Leone]; riffelblaarsetaria, riffelblaarmannagras, sclitzgras, sclitz gras, macopo grass, bosbuffelsgras, breëblaar borselgras, breëblaarsetaria; mufhafha (Venda) [South-Africa]; oka esin, okaeshin, okaesin [Yoruba] (USDA, 2019; Hyde et al., 2019; Quattrocchi, 2006)


Setaria chevalieri Stapf & C. E. Hubb., Setaria plicatilis (Hochst.) Hack. ex Engl., Setaria palmifolia auct. non (J. Koenig) Stapf

Related feed(s) 


Big-leaf bristle grass is a robust perennial tufted grass growing up to 2.5 -3 m in height and often forming large clumps. Its has erect, slender to robust culms, over 1 cm in diameter, densely covered in irritating hairs (Flore du Gabon, 2019; Hyde et al., 2019). Big-leaf bristle grass can root from the nodes and is often rhizomatous (Quattrocchi, 2006). Leaf-blade are linear to linear lanceolate, conspicuously plicate, 1 m in length and up to 8-9 (-11) cm broad. Leaf sheath are hairy to densely pubescent. The inflorescence is a loose open cylindrical, inconspicuously bristled panicle, 60 cm long and 15 cm in diameter, bearing 2.2 – 3.5 mm long spikelets (Burkill, 1985).


Big-leaf bristle grass is used as forage and fodder grass as it is appreciated by all stock. It is also valuable for ground cover and soil rehabilitation in stream bank stabilization and channel plug developement. The leaves can be used for thatching and hut building. The ashes of the plant provide a vegetable salt (Quattrocchi, 2006). In eastern Zaire, the leaves of big-leaf bristle grass are used for mashing bananas in order to make beer and bunches of leaves are used to wash dishes (Terashima et al., 1992). Big-leaf bristle grass is a shade-loving grass that can be used as an ornamental in restored areas (Wildflower Nursery, 2019).


Big-leaf bristle grass is a very hardy species that can be found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, America and India, in places where rain falls during summer. It can be found from sea level up to an altitude of 1800 m in savannahs, grassland, along streams and in low-lying areas and shady places like forests or plantations (Wildflower Nursery, 2019; Hankey et al., 2002). Big-leaf bristle grass can grow in moist or wet places (stream and river banks, channels), shaded or semi-shaded areas on loamy soils and on degraded areas (Hyde et al., 2019; Wildflower Nursery, 2019; Quattrocchi, 2006).

Forage management 

As a stoloniferous species, big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla) should be propagated by division rather than by seed sowing (Hankey et al., 2002). Big-leaf bristle grass can be grazed or used in cut-and-carry systems (Hankey et al. 2002; Burkill, 1985).

Environmental impact 

Soil coverage and rehabilitation

Big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla) can be used for soil cover and rehabilitation of stream banks and degraded soils as it can stabilize unstable soil and prevent soil erosion (Ethekwini, 2008; Quattrocchi, 2006). 

Water purification

Big-leaf bristle grass plays a major role in water purification as it absorbs excess nutrients from the water (Hankey et al., 2002).


Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Big-leaf bristle grass has low protein (<8%), and high fibre (NDF > 65%) contents (Du Toit, 2017; Dougall, 1960).


Potential constraints 

Scouring, cyanogenic poisoning and tsetse fly

There have been reports of scouring in livestock grazing big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla). When it is used in cut-and-carry systems, careful wilting should be done to prevent hydrocyanic acid poisoning. In Kenya it has been reported to harbour tsetse fly making livestock at risk of suffering from trypanosomiasis (Burkill, 1985).


The leaves are palatable and are browsed by game (Growwild, 2019). It has been reported to be among the main grasses eaten by buffaloes in the Serengeti Park (Melleti et al., 2014). As a pasture grass it is good for grazing while still young when it is palatable with high leaf production (Hankey et al., 2002). In Sierra Leone, it was been recommended to grow big-leaf bristle grass as grazing pastures as it provides valuable fodder for ruminants but also prevents soil erosion (Whyte, 1947).


No information found (as of 2019)


No information found (as of 2019)


Literature onbig-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla) utilisation in rabbit feeding is very scarce. In October 2018, the apparently unique reference available in the international literature is a mention of the utilisation of its leaves by farmers of the northern part of Angola to feed their rabbits, without indication on the conditions of this utilisation (Göhre et al., 2016).

Before recommending this grass in rabbit feeding more information and, if possible, direct experiments are necessary. However, according to the chemical composition, it should be mainly used as a source of fibre (74% NDF) with a low digestible energy content of about 5.6 MJ/kg DM and a digestibility coefficient of nitrogen around 40% (Lebas, 2016).

Horses and donkeys 

No information found (as of 2019)


No information found (as of 2019)

Nutritional tables

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

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Crude protein % DM 9.7 1.6 8.3 11.7 5
Crude fibre % DM 39.5 3.6 33.5 42.5 5
NDF % DM 74.4 *
ADF % DM 45.8 *
Lignin % DM 6.7 *
Ether extract % DM 1.2 0.4 0.7 1.8 5
Ash % DM 8.2 2.4 5.8 12.1 5
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.4 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 1.9 0.4 1.5 2.4 4
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.5 0.2 1.2 1.8 4
Potassium g/kg DM 9.6 2.2 7.2 12.4 4
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.5 0.4 3.3 4.1 4
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 58.3 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 55.7 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.2 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.2 *

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


CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1960

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:46

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 90.4 1
Crude protein % DM 12.3 1
Crude fibre % DM 26.4 1
NDF % DM 62.1 *
ADF % DM 31.4 *
Lignin % DM 3.5 *
Ether extract % DM 2.4 1
Ash % DM 12.4 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.5 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 68.8 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 65.2 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 11.4 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.2 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 64.5 1

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


Walker, 1975

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:46

Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/383 Last updated on February 13, 2019, 17:43

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