Pennisetum purpureum Schum, Elephant grass, Napier grass seeds
Pennisetum purpureum Schum is a hybrid variety of Elephant grass P. purpureum. It's leaves are green instead of purple and it grows a bit faster.
Pennisetum purpureum belongs to the family of the Poaceae, the sweet grasses. P. purpureum is native to Africa and is also known as Napier grass, Elephant grass or Uganda grass. The name Elephant grass is due to the fact, that the forest elephants in West Cameroon eat mainly P. purpureum. Meanwhile the Elephant grass is also distributed in other tropical areas outside of Africa. It is rated as an invasive species in many countries.
The Elephant grass is a perennial plant that reaches a height up to 6 m, in average about 3-3,5m.
The leaves are simple and long. The reach an average length of 50 to 90 cm. Sometimes they can even get 120 cm long. The leaves are only 1 to 4 cm wide. The leaves of the Napier grass have a white midrib. The flower is a spike that gets 8 to 30 cm long and 2 to 3 cm wide. It is yellowish brown or reddish in color. The fruits are brownish caryopses.
At some places the Uganda grass does not produces any seeds. It reproduces just vegetative with roots that come out of the nodes of an old shoot that touches the ground. When the Elephant grass produces seeds, then it produces quite a lot. But not all of the seeds are fertile. The seeds are distributed with the wind or with birds that eat the seeds.
The roots of the Napier grass are much branched. Due to that fact it can stand short periods of drought.
The Elephant grass is used in Africa to feed the cattle. It is the mostly cultivated fodder plant. Nowadays it is used as a renewable raw material to produce biogas.
The young shoots and leaves can be eaten in a soup. Furthermore fences can be built out of the shoots. Due to the branched root system of the Elephant grass it is not very well suitable as a hedgerow because it competes with other plants. An advantage of the root system is that the Elephant grass is able to stop erosion.
The seeds of the Elephant grass should be planted into a gritty clayey substrate with a pH between 5,2 and 8,7.
If one wants to have more plants next to each other one should leave a space of about 120 cm between the plants. Furthermore a rhizome stop is reasonable to avoid an undesired distribution of the plant.
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