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Panicum maximum - Jacq.

Common Name Guinea grass. Green panic grass
Family Poaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards In South Africa, it is suspected to cause a sheep disease ("dikoor"), perhaps in conjunction with a smut. The plant is said to cause fatal colic if eaten too wet or in excess. Traces of HCN occur in stems and leaves, more in the roots[269 ].
Habitats Grasslands, open woodlands and shady places[418 ].
Range Tropical and subtropical Africa from Senegal to Ethiopia and Somalia, south to S. Africa, the Arab Peninsula and islands in the west Indian Ocean
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Panicum maximum Guinea grass. Green panic grass

Panicum maximum Guinea grass. Green panic grass


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Panicum maximum is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) 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 Wind. The plant is self-fertile.
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 very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Urochloa maxima (Jacq.) R.D.Webster Megathyrsus maximus (Jacq.) B.K.Simon & S.W.L.Jacobs Panicum polygamum Sw. Panicum laeve Lam. Panicum jumentorum Pers. Panicum scaberrimum Lag. Panicum compressum Biv. Panicum heynei Roth Panicum poiforme Willd. ex Spreng. Panicum sparsum Schumach. Panicum airoides Flüggé ex Nees Panicum teff Desv. Panicum eburneum Trin. Panicum confine Hochst. ex A.Rich. Milium arundinaceum J.Koenig ex Steud. Panicum hirsutissimum Steud. Panicum pamplemoussense Steud. Panicum praelongum Steud. Panicum trichocondylum Steud. Panicum praticola Salzm. ex Döll Panicum trichoglume K.Schum. Panicum tephrosanthum Hack. Panicum giganteum Mez Panicum bivonianum Brullo Megathyrsus bivonanus (Brullo, Miniss., Scelsi & Spamp.) Verloove


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked. Small and very fiddly to collect any quantity, it is generally only used in times of food shortage[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.

The plant is said to be diuretic, laxative and preventitive[269 , 332 ]. It is used in the treatment of heartburn and tympanitis[269 , 310 ]. Sap from the crushed fresh plant is used as a cicatrisant on wounds and sores[332 ]. The grass is tied around the head in order to bring relief from a headache[332 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The plant has been suggested as a biofuel for producing alcohol[269 ]. The straw is useful for thatching[332 ]. The culms serve as brooms[332 ]. The culms are used for basket weaving[332 ].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Fodder: Bank  Fodder: Pasture  Management: Hay  Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Protein

A plant of the subtropical to tropical zones, where it is found at elevations up to 2,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 19 - 30°c, but can tolerate 6 - 35°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,800mm, but tolerates 650 - 4,300mm[418 ]. Prefers a lightly shaded position, but succeeds in full sun and quite deep shade[418 ]. It grows especially well in shaded, damp areas under trees and shrubs[295 ]. Grows best in a fertile, humus-rich loam, but tolerates most soil types and also low fertility[418 ]. Prefers a well-drained soil, but tolerant of seasonal inundation[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 3.5 - 8.4[418 ]. The plant is a very effective coloniser in ungrazed areas, particularly where some form of soil disturbance has occurred[415 ]. It is well adapted to sloping, cleared land in rain forest areas. It can be an aggressive invader of annual and perennial crops in Brazil[418 ]. The plant may become a persistent weed, especially in cultivated areas such as sugarcane fields. It should be controlled in the seedling stage, as it is very difficult to remove later when the grass has reached maturity[295 ]. Yields of dry matter may be 6 - 60 tonnes per hectare[418 ]. Although plants seed readily, heads ripen very unevenly and shatter readily. Hence seed must be hand-collected. Viability of the fresh seed is comparatively low - it is increased by storing the seeds dry for 6 - 18 months[269 , 415 ]. Seed viability under natural conditions is short-lived. The plants should be allowed to reseed themselves at periodic intervals to insure stand maintenance[269 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Contour hedgerow  Alley cropping systems on the contour of slopes.
  • Fodder: Bank  Fodder banks are plantings of high-quality fodder species. Their goal is to maintain healthy productive animals. They can be utilized all year, but are designed to bridge the forage scarcity of annual dry seasons. Fodder bank plants are usually trees or shrubs, and often legumes. The relatively deep roots of these woody perennials allow them to reach soil nutrients and moisture not available to grasses and herbaceous plants.
  • Fodder: Pasture  Enclosed tracts of farmland mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants).
  • Management: Hay  Cut to the ground and harvested annually. Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - there is an initial dormancy when first harvested, which can last for up to 18 months. This can be overcome by the removal of glumes from the fresh seed[415 ]. The seed is usually sown in situ - only cover it lightly and then roll the ground[415 ]. Stems of guinea grass root freely from nodes when in contact with moist soil but, as a result of its erect growth habit, such rooted creeping stolons are rarely seen in the field[310 ]. Crops may also be established by propagating by sprigs, or by dividing the stools[269 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Capim coloninho, Chipufu, Chiundzi, Gamelote, Gini hullu, Gini pullu, Ginigawat, Ginighas, Guinit, Lipumbe, Lumbunga, Msonthe, Mundundu, Murumbu, Naporre, Pastoa colonial, Pasto guinea, Pokopoko, Rumput benggala, Silunbentam-o, Suket londa

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Found In

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

Africa*, Angola, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Central America, China, Congo, East Africa, Ghana, Guadeloupe, Guiana, Guianas, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Laos, Lesotho, Lesser Antilles, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mediterranean, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Norfolk Island, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Puerto Rico, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South America, Southern Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tonga, Uganda, Uruguay, USA, Venezuela, West Africa, West Indies, 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.

The plant is a very effective coloniser in ungrazed areas, particularly where some form of soil disturbance has occurred[415 ]. It is well adapted to sloping, cleared land in rain forest areas. It can be an aggressive invader of annual and perennial crops in Brazil[418 ]. The plant may become a persistent weed, especially in cultivated areas such as sugarcane fields. It should be controlled in the seedling stage, as it is very difficult to remove later when the grass has reached maturity[295 ].

Conservation Status

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

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Panicum miliaceumEuropean MilletAnnual1.0 10-12  LMHNDM322
Panicum obtusumVine MesquitePerennial0.8 -  LMHNM202
Panicum sonorumSauwi, Mexican panicgrassAnnual1.0 0-0  LMHNDM20 
Panicum turgidumDesert Grass. Turgid panic grass, AfezuPerennial1.5 10-12 FLMNDM202
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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Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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