Plants tufted annuals or short-lived, shortly stoloniferous perennials.
Culms 10-35(100) cm, usually geniculately ascending and rooting at the
lower nodes. Sheaths keeled, with papillose-based hairs distally; ligules
0.5-1.5 mm, membranous, ciliate; blades 5-22 cm long, 2-8(12) mm wide,
with papillose-based hairs. Panicle branches (1)2-6(8), 1.5-6 cm, only
the first few spikelets in contact with the spikelets of adjacent branches; branch
axes extending beyond the spikelets for 1-6 mm. Spikelets 3-4.5 mm
long, about 3 mm wide. Glumes 1.5-2 mm; lower glumes ovate, acute;
upper glumes oblong elliptic, obtuse, awned, awns 1-2.5 mm; lemmas
2.5-3.5 mm, ovate, midveins extended into curved, 0.5-1 mm awns; paleas
about as long as the lemmas; anthers 0.5-0.8 mm, pale yellow. Seeds
cuboid, about 1 mm long and wide, transversely rugose, light tan to reddish-brown.
2n = 20, 36, 40, 45, 48.
Dactyloctenium aegyptium is a widely distributed weed of disturbed sites
in the Flora region. It is also considered a weed in southern Africa, but
the seeds have been used for food and drink in times of famine. In addition, bruised
young seeds have been used as a fish poison, and extracts are reputed to help
kidney ailments and coughing (Koekemoer 1991). In Australia, it is planted as
a sand stabilizer along the coast (Jacobs and Hastings 1993).
Common Name: Egyptian grass Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Decumbent annual, often rooting at lower nodes, weak stems 10-50 cm tall, often forms radiating mats. Vegetative: Blades flat, 2-8 mm broad, pustulate-ciliate on margins near base, occasional stiff hairs on one or both surfaces, ligule membranous, minutely erose, less than 0.5 mm long. Inflorescence: Spikes 2-6, short and stubby, paired or digitate at the stem apex, tuft of hair at point of union; spicate branches 2-6 cm long, 5-8 mm wide, spikelets numerous; glumes unequal in size and shape, lower glume awnless, upper glume with awn 0.5-3.5 mm; disarticulation between glumes, first remaining on rachis; caryopsis glistening red-brown with thin, evenly spaced ridges. Ecology: Widely naturalized weed found on roadsides, sandy washes, and disturbed soils. Notes: Introduced, but not as aggressive as Cynodon dactylon, widely naturalized. The pendulous, secund seeds mae it distinguishable from Cynodon dactylon. Ethnobotany: Cocopa said to have used the grain for food, widely used as such in other parts of the world. Etymology: Dactylocteniumis from Greek daktylos, finger and ktenion, little comb, aegyptium refers to its being Egyptian. Synonyms: Cynosurus aegyptius Editor: SBuckley, 2010
Culms widely spreading, flattened, rooting at the nodes; sheaths glabrous; blades to 8 mm wide, papillose-ciliate, especially at base; spikes 2-5, each 2-5 cm; second glume 2 mm, its awn 2-3 mm, often flexuous, usually divergent forward and over the adjacent spikelet; lemmas 2-5, 3 mm; 2n=20, 24, 36, 40, 48. Open ground, waste places, and fields; native of the Old World tropics, now well established as a weed in trop. Amer. and abundant in se. U.S., occasionally adventive in our range, n. to Me. and Ill.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.