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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)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Urochloa mosambicensis Sabi grass, Gonya grass, Bushveld signal grass - Harry Rose from Dungog, Australia
Urochloa mosambicensis Sabi grass, Gonya grass, Bushveld signal grass - Harry Rose from Dungog, Australia


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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.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 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: acid, neutral and basic (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 ].


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


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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


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.


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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

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.


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(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.

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