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Imperata cylindrica

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Title: Imperata cylindrica  
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Subject: Imperata, Ivatan people, Sitakunda Upazila, Spear grass, Grasses of India
Collection: Angiosperms of Western Australia, Flora of Armenia, Flora of Azerbaijan, Flora of Bhutan, Flora of Burundi, Flora of Cameroon, Flora of China, Flora of East Tropical Africa, Flora of Ethiopia, Flora of Gabon, Flora of Georgia (Country), Flora of Greece, Flora of Indo-China, Flora of Indonesia, Flora of Italy, Flora of Japan, Flora of Korea, Flora of Malaysia, Flora of Malesia, Flora of Nepal, Flora of North Africa, Flora of Oman, Flora of Pakistan, Flora of Papua New Guinea, Flora of Portugal, Flora of Russia, Flora of Rwanda, Flora of South Tropical Africa, Flora of Southern Africa, Flora of Spain, Flora of Sri Lanka, Flora of the Canary Islands, Flora of the Philippines, Flora of the United States, Flora of Western Asia, Flora of Yemen, Grasses of India, Grasses of Metropolitan France, Invasive Plant Species, Naturalized Grasses of Alabama, Panicoideae, Plants Described in 1759, Poales of Australia
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Imperata cylindrica

Imperata cylindrica
Imperata cylindrica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Imperata
Species: I. cylindrica
Binomial name
Imperata cylindrica
(L.) P.Beauv.

See text

Imperata cylindrica, commonly known as blady grass, cogon grass , kunai grass , or Japanese bloodgrass, is a species of grass in the genus Imperata. It is placed in the subfamily Panicoideae, supertribe Andropogonodae, tribe Andropogoneae.

It is a perennial rhizomatous grass native to east and southeast Asia, India, Micronesia, Melanesia, Australia, and eastern and southern Africa. It grows from 0.6–3 m (2–10 feet) tall. The leaves are about 2 cm wide near the base of the plant and narrow to a sharp point at the top; the margins are finely toothed and are embedded with sharp silica crystals. The main vein is a lighter colour than the rest of the leaf and tends to be nearer to one side of the leaf. The upper surface is hairy near the base of the plant while the underside is usually hairless. Roots are up to 1.2 meters deep, but 0.4 m is typical in sandy soil.


  • Cultivation and uses 1
    • Weed problems 1.1
  • Flammability 2
  • Phytochemistry 3
  • Taxonomy 4
  • Etymology 5
  • Local names 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Cultivation and uses

It is used for thatching the roofs of traditional homes throughout south-east Asia.


It is planted extensively for ground cover and soil stabilization near beach areas and other areas subject to erosion. Other uses include paper-making, thatching and weaving into mats and bags. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine.[1]

A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use as ornamental plants, including the red-leaved 'Red Baron', also known as Japanese blood grass.

Young inflorescences and shoots may be eaten cooked, and the roots contain starch and sugars and are therefore easy to chew.[2][3]

Weed problems

The plant has become naturalized in the Americas, Northern Asia, pH from 4.0 to 7.5. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. In Florida I. cylindrica is found in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as roadsides, building sites, timber harvesting areas, and burrow pits. It is able to invade both moist and dry upland pine forests. Once established it often forms dense monocultures.[5]

It spreads both through small seeds, which are easily carried by the wind, and rhizomes which can be transported by tilling equipment and in soil transport.

In the Southeastern United States, state governments have various eradication efforts in place, and deliberate propagation is prohibited by some authorities.[6] Control is typically by the use of herbicides. Burnoff is seldom successful since the grass burns at a high temperature causing heat damage to trees which would ordinarily be undamaged by a controlled burn and recovers from a burn quickly.

The legume vine Mucuna pruriens is used in the countries of Benin and Vietnam as a biological control for Imperata cylindrica.[7]


Green kunai grass on fire in Papua New Guinea

Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that types of this grass are quite flammable even when apparently green,[8] particularly in Southeast Asian climates. It is not uncommon to see hillsides of cogon grass on fire.[9][10]

A common expression in the Philippines is ningas cogon ('cogon brush fire'). It is a figure of speech for procrastination, specifically people who show a fervent interest in a new project but lose interest quickly, in reference to the propensity of cogon grass to catch fire and burn out quickly.[11]


The plant contains the triterpenoids arundoin, cylindrin and fernenol.[12]


Imperata cylindrica was first described by Linnaeus in 1759 under the basionym Lagurus cylindricus.[13] They were renamed by the French entomologist and botanist Palisot de Beauvois to the current accepted name of Imperata cylindrica.




From Spanish cogón, from the Tagalog and Visayan kugon.[15]

Local names

Local English names:

Names in other languages:


  1. ^ "Imperata". Acupuncturetoday - traditional Chinese medicine (tcm). Retrieved 22 Dec 2014. 
  2. ^ Imperata cylindrica - Plants For A Future database report
  3. ^ Imperata cylindrica
  4. ^ Aggressive weed becoming a menace worse than kudzu, UF researcher says
  5. ^ "Cogon Grass". Invasive Non-native Plants. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Factsheet - Mucuna pruriens". Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  8. ^ Species Description: Imperata cylindrica (L.) Beauv.
  9. ^ ) pastures and its Effect of Dry Matter Yield and Animal Production in the Markham Valley, Papua New Guinea by P.A. ChadhokarImperata cylindrica) in Kunai (Stylosanthes Guianensis'Establishment of Stylo (
  10. ^ Fire leaves 20 without shelter
  11. ^ Filipino Culture: What is Ningas Cogon
  12. ^ The structures of arundoin, cylindrin and fernenol : Triterpenoids of fernane and arborane groups of imperata cylindrica var. koenigii. K. Nishimoto, M. Ito and S. Natori, Tetrahedron, 1968, Volume 24, Issue 2, Pages 735–752, doi:10.1016/0040-4020(68)88023-8
  13. ^ Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Imperata cylindrica. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants ([S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.
  14. ^ "Hippeastrum petiolatum". Missouri Botanical Garden, Retrieved February 3, 2011. 
  15. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Cogon
  16. ^

External links

  • US National Park Service - Description of Cogon Grass and control measures
  • FAO information on Cogon
  • Edible and medicinal uses, cultivation, etc.
  • Description
  • PLANTS Profile for Imperata cylindrica (cogongrass) | USDA PLANTS profile
  • Murniati (2002) From Imperata cylindrica Grasslands to productive Agroforestry. PhD thesis Wageningen UR.
  • Imperata cylindrica in West African plants – A Photo Guide.
  • )Imperata cylindricaSpecies Profile- Cogongrass (, National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Cogongrass.
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