Herbs & Plants

Imperata cylindrica

Botanical Name : Imperata cylindrica
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Imperata
Species: I. cylindrica
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Common Names :Woollygrass, Blady grass, Cogon grass, kunai grass , or Japanese bloodgrass

Habitat :Imperata cylindrica is  native to east and southeast Asia, India, Micronesia, Australia, and eastern and southern Africa.It is found in areas where the soil has been disturbed, such as roadsides, building sites, timber harvesting areas, and borrow pits. It is able to invade both moist and dry upland pine forests. Once established it often forms dense monocultures.

It is a perennial rhizomatous grass. It grows from 0.6–3 m (2–10 feet) tall. The leaves are about 2 cm wide near the base of the plant and narrow to a sharp point at the top; the margins are finely toothed and are embedded with sharp silica crystals. The main vein is a lighter colour than the rest of the leaf and tends to be nearer to one side of the leaf. The upper surface is hairy near the base of the plant while the underside is usually hairless. Roots are up to 1.2 meters deep, but 0.4 m is typical in sandy soil.

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Edible Uses:
Young inflorescences and shoots may be eaten cooked, and the roots contain starch and sugars and are therefore easy to chew.

Medicinal Uses:
Imperata cylindrica  has  medicinal properties which include astringent, febrifuge, diuretic, tonic, and styptic actions. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

This is used as Chinese medicinal herb sued for all cases of “heat excess.”  Strong hemostatic action; immediately stops bleeding wounds and suppresses bruises.  The flowers are used in the treatment of hemorrhages, wounds etc. They are decocted and used to treat urinary tract infections, fevers, thirst etc.  The root is used in the treatment of nose bleeds, hematuria, hematemesis, edema and jaundice. The root has antibacterial action against Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus dysenteriae etc. Extracts of the plant have shown viricidal and anticancer activity.

Other uses:
It is used for thatching the roofs of traditional homes in Papua New Guinea.

It is planted extensively for ground cover and soil stabilization near beach areas and other areas subject to erosion. Other uses include paper-making, thatching and weaving into mats and bags.

A number of cultivars have been selected for garden use as ornamental plants, including the red-leaved ‘Red Baron’ (also known as Japanese blood grass).

Observed Problems:

Weed problems:
The plant has become naturalized in the Americas, Northern Asia, Europe and Africa in addition to many islands and is listed as an invasive weed in some areas. In the U.S. it survives best in the Southeast (and, according to a 2003 survey, has overtaken more acreage in that region than the notorious kudzu),   but has been reported to exist as far north as West Virginia and Oregon. Worldwide it has been observed from 45°N to 45°S. It grows on wet lands, dry lands, areas of high salinity, organic soils, clay soils and sandy soils of pH from 4.0 to 7.5. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade.

It spreads both through small seeds, which are easily carried by the wind, and rhizomes which can be transported by tilling equipment and in soil transport.

In the Southeastern United States, state governments have various eradication efforts in place, and deliberate propagation is prohibited by some authorities.[ Control is typically by the use of herbicides. Burnoff is seldom successful since the grass burns quite hot causing heat damage to trees which would ordinarily be undamaged by a controlled burn and recovers from a burn quickly.

The legume vine Mucuna pruriens is used in the countries of Benin and Vietnam as a biological control for Imperata cylindrica.

Green kunai grass on fire in Papua New Guinea Anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that types of this grass are quite flammable even when apparently green – particularly in Southeast Asian climates. It is not uncommon to see hillsides of cogon grass on fire.

A common expression in the Philippines is ningas cogon (‘cogon brush fire’). It is a figure of speech for procrastination, specifically people who show a fervent interest in a new project but lose interest quickly. It’s in reference to the propensity of cogon grass to catch fire and burn out quickly

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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