Cenchrus setaceus


Cenchrus: From the Greek cenchros which means millet

Common Name(s)

African fountain grass


Cenchrus setaceus (Forssk.) Morrone



Flora Category

Vascular - Exotic

Structural Class



Pennisetum setaceum Chiov.




Thickly-tufted perennials to 100cm, light green at base with narrow inrolled leaves; branching intravaginal. Sheath rounded or slightly keeled above, subcoriaceous, margins long-ciliate. Ligule .3~.7mm, a membranous densely ciliate rim. Collar hairs to 2.5mm. Blade 15~30cm x .5~1.5mm., stiff, folded or involute, long-tapering, adaxially very scabrid; margins esp., with a few scattered long hairs, tip filiform, acute. Culm 30~45cm, erect, internodes with many finely scabrid ridges. Panicle 8.5~20cm, narrow-cylindric, dense, spike-like, often tinged reddish-purple; rachis hairs short, soft. Spikelets 5~6mm, lanceolate, acute, pale green to purple, solitary or in clusters of 2~3 on ciliate pedicels to 3mm; involucre of numerous plumose, fine unequa bristles, one longer but not stouter bristle to 35mm. Lower glume a hyaline scale to 1mm or 0, upper 2~2.5mm, 1-nerved, hyaline, minutely scabrid. Lower floret male or sterile; lemma 4.5~5mm, 3-nerved, membranous, nerves minutely scaberulous near tip; palea = lemma, hyaline, rounded, keeled near tip, minutely scaberulous, or palea 0; anthers 2~3mm or 0. Upper floret hermaphrodite; lemma 5.5~6mm, 5-nerved, membranous, nerves scaberulous near mucronate tip; palea 4.5~5mm, hyaline, keels scarcely scaberulous near tip; lodicules .3~.4mm; anthers 2~3mm; styles connate, stigmas free; caryopsis approx. 3 x 1.2mm. (-Edgar & Connor, 2000)

Year Naturalised



W asia - N Africa

Reason For Introduction

Life Cycle Comments
Perennial. All utilize the C4 photosynthetic pathway and are +/- winter dormant.

Apomictic (asexual reproduction where embryos develop without fertilization) and to a smaller degree, out-crossing. Pollination is required for apomictic seed development.

Seeds of crimson fountaingrass and feathertop require several months (fall through early to mid-spring) to mature. Flower heads typically remain intact during this period. Most seeds germinate late spring through early summer.

Spikelets with bristles disperse in late spring with wind, water, human activities, and by clinging to animals.

This page last updated on 25 Aug 2015