Melinis minutiflora Beauv.
Molasses grass, Stinkgrass
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
A well-known pasture, hay, and fodder grass in various tropical countries.
Livestock must become accustomed to the grass before they eat it readily.
Grass, used for leys in Kenya, is useful as a cover crop and mulch. Odor of
fresh grass believed to repel insects, snakes, and ticks. Although grass has a
foul odor at certain stages, dried grass is free of this odor. The grass is
palatable to cattle once they become accustomed to the smell. In Tanganyika,
the bruised leaf is rubbed on animals as an insect repellant, and the grass is
used for nesting hens to control insect vermin. The whole plant is
insecticidal and has been cultivated in Brazil and Central Africa for this
purpose (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Of six grass species investigated,
molasses grass showed the highest anti-tick properties while Andropogon
gayanus had the ability to maintain a defined, constantly low, initial host
tick infestation and lengthy but low to moderate field tick population.
Melinis minutiflora is a species which would best be used in a tick
control within a marginal tick zone, while Andropogon gayanus would be
better within an endemic tick zone (Thompson et al., 1978).
In Brazil, an infusion of the plant is used for diarrhea (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).
Per 100 g, the hay (ZMB) is reported to contain 3.410.1 g protein, 0.92.2 g
EE, 41.351.7 g NFE, 29.841.4 g CF, 8.220.2 g ash, 360480 mg Ca, 190440 mg
P, 60120 mg S, 390920 mg Mg, 250340 mg Na, 7401,390 mg K, 90270 mg Cl.
The odor is attributed to a brown volatile oil (0.001%) exuded by the glandular
hairs. With a cumin-like odor, it contains fatty acids, esters, and, probably,
a phenolic substance. Calcium oxalate crystals are reported in the leaves
(Lerson, 1983), as high as 1.061.7% (C.S.I.R., 19481976). Cut grass contains
3.410% CP, 29.841.4% CF along with calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium,
potassium, chlorine, and sulfur. Food value is higher at preflowering stage.
Fodder gives proper balance in diets of sheep and in cattle increased or
improved live weight and milk yield. Gohl (1981) reports the following:
Perennial grass, culms usually decumbent, viscid-glandular throughout, rooting
at lower nodes, up to 1.8 m long, forming spreading tufts; leaves 517.5 cm
long, 413 mm broad, minutely to densely hairy, the hairs viscous with
characteristic somewhat sweet odor, purple or red-brown, sheaths pilose,
panicle open in flower, closing at maturity, becoming dense and narrow, 1030
cm long, usually pale pink to purple, with fine ascending filiform branches;
spikelets numerous, ca 2 mm long, light green or purple, hairless, with 2
florets, only the upper one fertile; lower glume in form of tiny scale; upper
glume as long as spikelet; valve of lower sterile floret similar in appearance
to upper glume but with fine purple awn 615 mm long. Fl. November.
Reported from the African Center of Diversity, molasses grass, or cvs thereof,
is reported to tolerate drought, fire, insects, laterite, low pH, poor soil,
slope, and weeds. Not resistant to fire or waterlogging. There is wide
variation in growth habit, hairiness, leafiness, and vigor. (2n = 36)
(Duke, 1978; Gohl, 1981.)
Indigenous to Africa; introduced to South America, Assam, southern India, and
elsewhere. In Kenya, in certain isolated areas, mostly in scattered tree
grasslands. Cited as a weed in Brazil, Colombia, Hawaii, and Venezuela (Holm
et al., 1979).
Ranging from Subtropical Dry to Wet through Tropical Very Dry to Moist Forest
Life Zones, molasses grass is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of 6.4
to 27.8 dm (mean of 16 cases = 16.3), annual temperature of 18.3 to 26.6°C
(mean of 16 cases = 23.5), and pH of 4.5 to 8.4 (mean of 11 cases = 6.1) (Duke,
1978, 1979). Usually occurs on rocky ground in hilly country, sometimes
forming pure stands. Succeeds throughout warmer, high-rainfall regions of
Africa from sea level to about 2,170 m altitude. Under proper pasture
management it forms a close sward. Grows in both moist and dry areas.
Seed production is good and establishment from seed is relatively easy.
Propagated from cuttings, the plants are quick growing because of their
spreading and rooting habits. They smother out weeds, producing a close
herbage suitable for pasturing cattle.
Crop may be harvested 50 days after planting seed. It may be used for pasture
or may be cut and used for fodder later. This grass is susceptible to
Duke (1978) reports hay yields up to 43 MT/ha. Trials in India gave yields of
2948 tons green herbage/ha in 2 or 3 cuttings. Cultivated fodder in India,
Brazil, and Africa; mainly used locally where grown.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity ranges from
2 to 16 MT/ha (216 in Colombia, 48 in Costa Rica).
Following fungi have been reported on molassesgrass: Claviceps sp.,
Corticium solani, Fusarium graminearum, F. sambucinum, Phyllachora graminis,
P. melinicola, Uredo melinidis, Uromyces setariaeitalicae. Nematodes
isolated from this grass include: Helicotylenchus dihystera,
Hemicriconemoides cocophilus, Meloiodgyne javanica, Peltamigratus nigeriensis,
and Scutellonema clathricaudatum.
| || ||As % of dry matter |
| ||DM ||CP ||CF ||Ash ||EE ||NFE |
|Fresh, pasture, fertilized, Puerto Rico ||25.6 ||9.0 ||36.5 ||7.8 ||3.0 ||44.7 |
|Hay, leaves, prebloom, 60 cm, Lao ||90.5 ||13.8 ||32.3 ||7.4 ||4.1 ||42.4 |
|Hay, stem, prebloom, 60 cm, Lao ||89.6 ||10.5 ||33.7 ||10.2 ||3.1 ||42.5 |
|Hay, late vegetative, India ||91.2 ||4.4 ||37.8 ||8.8 ||1.0 ||48.0 |
|Hay, mid-bloom, India ||91.3 ||4.2 ||36.8 ||10.1 ||1.1 ||47.8 |
|Stem-cured, Kenya ||88.9 ||6.1 ||32.3 ||8.4 ||1.7 ||51.5 |
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- C.S.I.R. (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research). 19481976. The wealth
of India. 11 vols. New Delhi.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Gohl, B. 1981. Tropical feeds. Feed information summaries and nutritive values.
FAO Animal Production and Health Series 12. FAO, Rome.
- Holm, L.G., Pancho, J.V., Herberger, J.P., and Plucknett, D.L. 1979. A
geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York.
- Lerson, N.R. 1983. Crystals of calcium compounds in Gramineae. New Phytologist
- Thompson, K.C., Roa, J., and Romero, T.N. 1978. Anti-tick grasses as the basis
for developing practical tropical tick control packages. Trop. Anim. Health and
- Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants
of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. E.&S. Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw