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Panicum turgidum - Forssk.

Common Name Desert Grass. Turgid panic grass, Afezu
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry sandy soils[332 ]. Sandy deserts and semi-deserts, on dunes and seashores, and in sandy pockets in rocky outcrops, at elevations up to 3,200 metres[299 ].
Range Northern Africa - Morocco to Somalia, eastern Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula to Pakistan.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Panicum turgidum Desert Grass. Turgid panic grass, Afezu

Panicum turgidum Desert Grass. Turgid panic grass, Afezu
Alex Sergeev (www.asergeev.com)


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Panicum turgidum is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) 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 saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Panicum frutescens Mez. Panicum neglectum Roem. & Schult. Panicum nubicum Fig. & De Not.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Seed  Shoots
Edible Uses:

Seed - eaten as a soup or ground into a flour and used to make a bread or a porridge[332 ]. The grain may also be stored against a time of scarcity[332 ]. In times of dearth, people raid ants nests to obtain the grain the ants have stored[332 ]. Young shoots - a sweet flavour[299 ]. The burnt, powdered roots produce a sort of soda which some people add to a tobacco quid[332 ].

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.

Old culms, dried and powdered, are used as a wound-dressing[332 ]. The root is carried by female marabouts (religious teachers) in Mauritania for corporal punishment of wayward pupils[332 ]. The seed is said to be antidiabetic[332 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: The plant produces long deep-penetrating and quick growing-roots which on sand-dunes act to bind the sand[332 ]. It is common on the Sahel steppes, and in parts of Niger (Agedes area) it forms near pure stands on sand-patches. In Sudan it is dominant on locust laying-ground and serves as food for the young insects[332 ]. Other Uses: The stiff straw is commonly woven into mats, baskets and cordage, and is also used for thatching[299 , 332 ]. The culms are used in desert areas as firewood[332 ]. Fodder: The palatibility of the leaves of Panicum turgidum is low, but sufficient for camels and donkeys, and, when young, for sheep and goats. Herdsmen in Niger say that milk becomes foul-smelling 2–3 days after cows have grazed Panicum turgidum.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Balanced carb  Wild Staple Crop

A plant of the arid tropics and subtropics where it is found at elevations up to 3,200 metres[418 ]. The plant grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is within the range 25 - 35°c, but can tolerate 8 - 40°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 200 - 400mm, tolerating 100 - 600mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position and a very well-drained soil[418 ]. Prefers a light to medium soil and is tolerant of poor soils and saline soils[299 , 418 ]. The plant is extremely drought resistant[332 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7, but tolerates 6 - 8[418 ]. In dry areas the dormant buds sprout rapidly after the onset of the rainy season and the plants stay green over a very extended period, with flowering occurring towards the end of the rainy season and during the early part of the dry season[299 ]. The seeds are difficult to harvest in quantity because they mature at different times over an extended period, shatter easily and are often eaten by birds[299 ]. The plant photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[299 ]. A collection of 42 accessions of Panicum turgidum is held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. High grain-yielding types are particularly found in the Middle East[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:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - it does not germinate below 15°c[299 ]. Surface sow, or only just cover, in a very well-drained medium but ensure the seed does not dry out. Germination is best at 25 - 35°c[299 ]. Transplanting of seedlings is possible[299 ]. Natural reproduction of Panicum turgidum is mainly vegetatively by stolons[299 ]. Division of self-layered plants[K ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Desert Grass. Turgid panic grass, Afezu, Afozo, Altumam, Dungara, Markouba, Markuba, Munt, Murut, Murutagas, Panic, Thumam, Timam, Tumam

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, Algeria, Arabia, Asia, Australia, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Central Africa, Chad, Cyprus, Djibouti, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sahara, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Socotra, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, UAE, West Africa, Western Sahara, Yemen

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Panicum antidotaleBlue Panic Grass, Blue panicumPerennial3.0 0-0  LMHNM110
Panicum capillareOld Witch Grass, WitchgrassAnnual0.6 4-8  LMHNM211
Panicum decompositumNative Millet, Australian milletPerennial0.3 0-0  LMHNM20 
Panicum maximumGuinea grass. Green panic grassPerennial2.0 10-12 FLMFSNDM122
Panicum miliaceumEuropean MilletAnnual1.0 10-12  LMHNDM322
Panicum obtusumVine MesquitePerennial0.8 -  LMHNM202
Panicum sonorumSauwi, Mexican panicgrassAnnual1.0 0-0  LMHNDM20 
Panicum urvilleanumDesert PanicgrassPerennial1.0 -  LMHNDM20 
Panicum virgatumSwitch GrassPerennial1.8 10-12 FLMNDM002

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.


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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.

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