Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeusch.

Last updated: 17 June 2015

Scientific Name

Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeusch.


Arundo epigeios Forssk. ex Steud. [Invalid], Calamagrostis lagurus Koeler [Illegitimate], Imperata allang Jungh., Imperata angolensis Fritsch, Imperata arundinacea Cirillo, Imperata dinteri Pilg., Imperata filifolia Nees ex Steud., Imperata koenigii (Retz.) P.Beauv., Imperata laguroides (Pourr.) J.Roux, Imperata latifolia (Hook.f.) L.Liou, Imperata pedicellata Steud., Imperata praecoquis Honda, Imperata robustior A.Chev., Imperata sieberi Opiz, Imperata sisca P.Beauv. ex Steud. [Invalid], Imperata thunbergii (Retz.) Nees, Lagurus cylindricus L., Saccharum cylindricum (L.) Lam., Saccharum diandrum J.Koenig ex Retz. [Invalid], Saccharum europaeum Pers. [Illegitimate], Saccharum indum Pers. [Invalid], Saccharum koenigii Retz., Saccharum laguroides Pourr., Saccharum sisca Cav., Saccharum spicatum J.Presl [Illegitimate], Saccharum spicatum Burm. ex Kunth [Invalid], Saccharum thunbergii Retz. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Lalang, alang-alang [2]
English Cogon grass, satintail [2], bedding grass [3], alang-alang, beady grass, cotton grass, cotton-wool grass, kunai grass, ramsammy grass, river farm grass, sharp grass, silky grass, silver spike, silver spike grass, sword grass, thatch grass, woolly grass [4]
China Bai mao gen, mao ya ken, pai mao, ssu mao (= floss grass) [4]
India Aitong, alang-alang, balbajamu, batta, chero, dab, darbhappullu, gondi, inankapillu, kans, kodi-pullu, langyak, modavagaddi, nanal, ooloo, padiali, pottar, rasni-dab, sanna darbhe hullu, sauraun, sil, tharabai pul, ulu kher, usirh, vidulum [4]
Indonesia Alang-alang, ilalang, lalang [2], kambengan [4]
Thailand Ya-kha; laa laeng; koe hee (Karen, Mae Hong Son) [2]
Laos Hnha:z kh'a [2]
Myanmar Kyet-mei [2]
Philippines Kogon (Tagalog); gogon (Bikol); bulum (Ifugao) [2]; buchid, gaon, gocon, goon, ilib, pan-au, panau, parang, parrang [4]
Cambodia Sbö’:w [2]
Vietnam C[or] tranh [2], co’tranh, bach mao can, tranh [4]
Sri Lanka Iluk [4]
Japan Chigaya, fushige chigaya, tsubana [4]
France Paillotte [2]
Papua New Guinea Kunai (Pidgin); kurukuru (Barakau, Central Province) [2]
Senegal Badied, bode, dol, falint, hada, idiol, madiel, sodo, solim, solimo [4]
Southern Africa Beddinggras, donsgras, lalanggrs, palinggras, silweranrgras, sygras, qheme; mohlorumo, mohlabalerumo (Sotho); umthente (Zulu) [4]

Geographical Distributions

Imperata cylindrica is widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia while occurring to a lesser extent in North, Central and South America. It also occurs in warm temperate areas and being recorded at latitudes of 45º in New Zealand and Japan. I. cylindrica grows at altitudes from sea level up to 2000 m in several countries and has been recorded at 2700 m in Indonesia. [2]

Botanical Description

I. cylindrica is a member of the family Gramineae. It is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial that grows up to 120(-300) cm tall. The culms are below the nodes and usually with a crown of long slender hairs. [2]

The leaf sheaths of basal leaves are coriaceous, and hairless or finely hairy. The leaf blade measures 12-80 cm x 0.5-2 cm. [2]

The inflorescence is a spike-like panicle of 10-30 cm long. The floret is with 4-5-veined upper glume and 2 stamens. [2]


I. cylindrica is often found in areas receiving more than 1000 mm rainfall per year, but has been recorded in sites receiving 500-5000 mm annual rainfall. It can withstand waterlogging but not continuous flooding. Although I. cylindrica may have originally been restricted to infertile and acid soils in the tropics, it has become widespread through man's intervention, particularly following slashing and burning of forest lands. Its resistance to burning is associated with its vigorous underground rhizomes, but seedlings are also established after burning. [2]

I. cylindrica is found in a wide range of habitats, including the dry sand dunes of seashores and deserts, as well as swamps and river valleys. It grows in grasslands, cultivated areas, and plantations. It quickly invades abandoned farmland and occurs on railway and highway embankments and in deforested areas. It is regarded as a light-loving plant and will not persist under heavy shade in plantations. Although it grows in a wide range of soil types of widely differing fertility, it grows most vigorously in wet soil of reasonable fertility. It has been reported to grow on soils with pH 4.0-7.5. It can even tolerate very hot, steamy and sulphurous conditions near an active volcanic fumarole or vent. I. cylindrica is reported to have allelopathic properties that adversely affect the growth of other plants. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of I. cylindrica [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeusch. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mac 23; cited 2015 June 17]. Available from:
  2. Jonathan J, Hariadi BPJ. Imperata cylindrica (L.) Raeuschel In: de Padua LS, Bunyapraphatsara N, Lemmens RHMJ, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 310.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 54-55.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 558-560.