We depend on donations from users of our database of over 8000 edible and useful plants to keep making it available free of charge and to further extend and improve it. In recent months donations are down, and we are spending more than we receive. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Urochloa mosambicensis - (Hack.) Dandy

Common Name Sabi grass, Gonya grass, Bushveld signal grass
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Savannah woodland and open grassland, often in disturbed or overgrazed locations such as fallow land and roadsides, especially where the soil is fertile, at elevations up to 1,600 metres[299 , 415 ].
Range Eastern and southern Africa - DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, S. Africa, Swaziland, Madagascar.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Urochloa mosambicensis Sabi grass, Gonya grass, Bushveld signal grass

Wikimedia.org - Harry Rose from Dungog, Australia
Urochloa mosambicensis Sabi grass, Gonya grass, Bushveld signal grass
Wikimedia.org - Harry Rose from Dungog, Australia


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Urochloa mosambicensis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.1 m (0ft 4in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Apomictic (reproduce by seeds formed without sexual fusion). The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Brachiaria stolonifera Gooss. Echinochloa notabilis (Hook.f.) D.Rhind Panicum mosambicense Hack. Panicum notabile Hook.f. Urochloa pullulans Stapf Urochloa rhodesiensis Stent Urochloa stolonifera (Gooss.) Chippind.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked. It is used as a cereal, usually being ground into a flour which is then often eaten as a porridge[299 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

Now available: PLANTS FOR YOUR FOOD FOREST: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens.

An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More


Other Uses

Agroforestry Uses: It is an effective plant for erosion control, and for other applications where rapid establishment and good ground cover are advantageous[299 , 415 ]. In Australia it plays a role in mine site rehabilitation[299 ]. Urochloa mosambicensis does well in intercropping with leguminous pasture plants and is commonly grown together with Stylosanthes spp[299 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Balanced carb  Wild Staple Crop

In its natural habitat Urochloa mosambicensis occurs at elevations up to 1,600 metres in regions with a mean annual rainfall of 400 - 1,200mm, exceptionally to 1,600mm, and a dry season of 5 - 9 months[299 , 305 ]. Plants have tolerated light frosts, but are checked by anything more than this[375 ]. Prefers a sunny position, but tolerates light shade[415 ]. It will grow in a wide range of soils, from clay loams to sands, but appears to be more suitable for lighter soils with relatively high fertility[299 , 305 ]. It can tolerate both acid and alkaline soils[305 ]. Established plants are drought tolerant[305 ]. Tolerates lower fertility than most sown grasses with some salinity tolerance. In northern Australia the plant has escaped from cultivation and becomes dominant after fires[299 , 305 ].However, the plant is considered to be too palatable and insufficiently aggressive to become a serious weed[415 ]. The seeds germinate early in the wet season and vegetative growth continues until soil water is exhausted. Flowering starts 3 - 4 weeks after the start of the rainy season and continues until growth ceases. Seed matures in 3 - 4 weeks[299 ]. Plants are often short-lived, dying after 3 - 4 years[299 ]. Urochloa mosambicensis is an obligate apomict[299 ]. The plant follows the C4 photosynthetic pathway[299 ]. To obtain the grain, the inflorescences are picked when still slightly green and spread out in the sun to dry. When dry, the grains are easily rubbed from the stalks[299 ]. Annual grain yields of 100 - 300 kilos per hectare have been recorded from Australia[299 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.
  • Wild Staple Crop  Some wild plants have strong historical or contemporary use. Although they are not cultivated crops, they may be wild-managed.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

Shop Now


Seed - Fresh seed has dormancy, which breaks down after 9–12 months storage. Dormancy can be broken by hammer-milling, destroying the hard lemma[299 ]. In India Urochloa mosambicensis is also propagated vegetatively using rooted cuttings[299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Bunga, Chequenchi, Gonya grass, Imbabu, Impunga, M'pande, Mwe-zok-myet, Namape, Shibanane, Tunga, Wayon-myet. African liverseed grass, bushveld herringbone grass, bushveld signal grass, common urochloa, Katherine liverseed, perennial urochloa grass, sabi, sabi grass, sabigrass, urochloa, urochloa grass

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Angola, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Botswana, Central Africa, East Africa, Ghana, Hawaii, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, SE Asia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

In northern Australia the plant has escaped from cultivation and becomes dominant after fires[299 , 305 ].However, the plant is considered to be too palatable and insufficiently aggressive to become a serious weed[415 ].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment


(Hack.) Dandy

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Urochloa mosambicensis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.