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20 September 2012

Setaria palmifolia (palm grass)

Datasheet Types: Pest, Invasive species

Abstract

This datasheet on Setaria palmifolia covers Identity, Overview, Distribution, Dispersal, Hosts/Species Affected, Diagnosis, Biology & Ecology, Environmental Requirements, Natural Enemies, Impacts, Uses, Prevention/Control, Management, Further Information.

Identity

Preferred Scientific Name
Setaria palmifolia (J. Koenig) Stapf
Preferred Common Name
palm grass
Other Scientific Names
Panicum palmaefolium J. Koenig (1788)
Panicum palmifolia J. Koenig (1788)
Setaria lenis (Steud.) Miq. (1857)
Local Common Names
bristlegrass
broadleaved bristlegrass
hailans pitpit
highland pitpit
knotroot
palmgrass
short pitpit
Australia
pleated pigeon grass
China
you gou wei cao
zhu tou cao
zhu ye cao
zong mao
zong ye cao
zong ye gou wei cao
France
que de rat
India
aruna
dhutesaro
Indonesia
lintabung
rumput daun pisang
Japan
sasa kibi
Papua New Guinea
kura
pitpit
Philippines
agusas
Samoa
vao ‘ofe‘ofe
Spain
pasto de palma
Thailand
ya kap phai
USA/Hawaii
mau‘u Kaleponi

Pictures

Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit, showing foliage and flowers. Makawao Forest Reserve, Maui. November 13, 2004
Habit, showing foliage and flowers
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit, showing foliage and flowers. Makawao Forest Reserve, Maui. November 13, 2004
©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2004. CC-BY-3.0
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit. Wahinepee, Maui. August 03, 2002
Habit
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit. Wahinepee, Maui. August 03, 2002
©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2002. CC-BY-3.0
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit, showing foliage. Wahinepee, Maui. August 03, 2002
Habit, showing foliage
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit, showing foliage. Wahinepee, Maui. August 03, 2002
©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2002. CC-BY-3.0
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); leaves and inflorescences. Olinda Rd Makawao, Maui. March 04, 2008
Leaves and inflorescences
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); leaves and inflorescences. Olinda Rd Makawao, Maui. March 04, 2008
©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2008. CC-BY-3.0
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit. Makawao Forest Reserve, Maui. December 26, 2004
Habit
Setaria palmifolia (palmgrass); habit. Makawao Forest Reserve, Maui. December 26, 2004
©Forest & Kim Starr Images-2004. CC-BY-3.0

Summary of Invasiveness

S. palmifolia is a robust perennial grass of the wet tropics that grows up to 2 m tall. It is native to Asia but has been widely introduced to Central America and the Pacific, usually as an ornamental, and has naturalized and become invasive in many new territories, especially on Pacific islands, including Hawaii. It can be a serious weed of forestry, plantation crops and of rice, but also threatens endangered species in natural forest and other natural vegetation. Holm et al. (1979) classified it as ‘serious’ in India and Indonesia, while PIER (2012) score it 7 on the Australian weed risk assessment system, meaning that it should not be imported into Australia. Availability as an ornamental makes it a continuing threat to new regions.

Taxonomic Tree

This content is currently unavailable.

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Many other synonyms are listed by The Plant List (2012) in addition to those included in the Identity section. It was originally given the name Panicum palmifolium (also recorded as P. palmaefolium or P. palmifolia) by Koenig in 1788. It was first included in the genus Setaria as Setaria lenis in 1857. It has been given many other names within Agrostis, Panicum, Chaetochloa, Chamearaphis and Setaria. None of these are in current use, though the alternative spelling as S. palmaefolia occasionally occurs. Shukla (1996) comments that ‘this variable species approaches S. plicata on one hand and S. poiretiana on the other’ and some authors have suggested that the former is merely a depauperate form of S. palmifolia (e.g. Noltie, 2000).

Plant Type

Grass / sedge
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Description

S. palmifolia is a densely tufted perennial grass with short, woody, knotty rhizomes, with foliage up to 1 m high. Individual leaves 20-60 cm long, 2-7 cm, wide, plicate (finely pleated with multiple ridges) glabrous or hispid, narrowed toward the base, apex acuminate. Leaf sheath hispid with irritant haitrs, ciliate near the ligule which is 2.5-3.5 mm long, also ciliate. Flowering culms may be decumbent at the base and rooting at the nodes, finally erect to 100-200 cm high, 5-8 mm diameter, nodes hairy. Panicle up to 60 cm long, 10 cm wide with branches each up to 20 cm, spreading, flexous. Spikelets 3-4 mm long, lanceolate, acute, some subtended by single bristles up to 15 mm long. Lower glume triangular, up to half as long as spikelet, upper glume 2/3 as long as spikelet, 5-7-nerved. Upper lemma somewhat rugose, shiny.  Caryopsis 2 mm long.

Distribution

S. palmifolia is native to tropical Asia but has been introduced deliberately or otherwise further east to Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and South and Central America. There are single records for Florida and Texas in the USA in 2003 (Missouri Botanic Garden, 2012). A number of sources suggest occurrence in West Africa, from Sierra Leone to Cameroon (Burkhill, 1985). However, Burkhill mentions that some specimens at least have been re-determined. However, there are apparently sound sporadic records from southern Ethiopia in 1976, Liberia in 1964, Uganda in 1994, Niger in 1996 and Madagascar in 1927 (GBIF, 2012). There is no indication as to whether these populations had become naturalized. But a record from southern Zambia in 1996 indicates it was ‘widespread in shady under-story’ (Missouri Botanic Garden, 2012).
In Japan most modern records are from the extreme south of the country or from the Island of Okinawa, but there is one fossil record from Honshu Island further north (GBIF, 2012).

Distribution Map

This content is currently unavailable.

Distribution Table

This content is currently unavailable.

History of Introduction and Spread

No precise information is available but records suggest introductions prior to 1923 in Australia, 1927 in Madagascar, 1939 in Belize, 1958 in New Zealand, 1964 in Liberia, 1971 in Venezuela, 1976 in Ethiopia, 1983 in Tenerife, 1994 in Uganda and 1996 in Niger and Zambia (GBIF, 2012).

Risk of Introduction

The risk of introduction continues to be high as it is freely available as an ornamental. Plant Buddy (2012) lists 11 sources. S. palmifolia could thrive in many parts of tropical Africa.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Natural Dispersal (Non-biotic)

No documentation is available but local dispersal is certain to occur by wind and by soil or water movement.

Vector Transmission (Biotic)

Shiels (2011) showed that seeds of S. palmifolia could be dispersed by rats in Hawaii, but less than 15% of the seeds survived the passage through the gut. Presumably domestic livestock could also cause dispersal on a local basis. PIER (2012) indicates dispersal by seed-eating birds.

Accidental Introduction

The seeds are very small and inconspicuous and could readily be introduced as contaminants of other pasture grass seed.

Intentional Introduction

Deliberate introduction continues to be highly probable as this species is widely advertised and made available as an ornamental plant. Several varieties are recognized including some with red foliage.

Pathway Causes

Pathway Vectors

Pathway vectorNotesLong distanceLocalReferences
Aircraft (pathway vector) Yes  
Water (pathway vector)  Yes 
Wind (pathway vector)  Yes 

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

HostFamilyHost statusReferences
Camellia sinensis (tea)TheaceaeMain 
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain 
Triticum aestivum (wheat)PoaceaeOther 

Growth Stages

Flowering stage
Seedling stage
Vegetative growing stage

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

It may be confused with Setaria plicata, which is closely-related but a smaller plant. Bor (1960) describes it as much smaller, with leaves only up to 3 cm wide, and panicle no more than 25 cm long and 5 cm wide. S. poiretiana and S. megaphylla have very dense panicles no more than 8 cm long. S. paniculifera is also similar, but with bristles below the spikelet up to 5 times as long as the spikelet.

Habitat

Found in tropical and subtropical rain forests, wet sclerophyll forests, dry sclerophyll forests, Brigalow forests, sub-humid woodlands, semi-arid shrub woodlands, open forest, margins of thickets, shady path-sides and amongst partly shaded plantation crops such as tea.

Habitat List

CategorySub categoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial    
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural landSecondary/tolerated habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchardsPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems)Secondary/tolerated habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedIndustrial / intensive livestock production systemsPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areasPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial – ManagedRail / roadsidesPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forestsSecondary/tolerated habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslandsPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanksPrincipal habitat 
TerrestrialTerrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalWetlandsPrincipal habitat 

Biology and Ecology

Genetics

Chromosome number 2n=36 or 54 (Bor, 1960; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2012; Missouri Botanic Garden, 2012). The meiotic behaviour in some populations of S. palmifolia (n=27) in India was found to be highly abnormal with low pollen fertility (Harpreet Kaur et al., 2011).

Reproductive Biology

The plant may be dispersed as rhizome fragments but the spread of individual plants by rhizome is very limited. Most spread is therefore by seeds which are produced quite abundantly. There is little published, however, on germination requirements or dormancy.

Physiology and Phenology

S. palmifolia is a C4 plant (Ibrahim et al., 2009) but there has been no detailed study of its physiology or phenology. It flowers from August to October in India.

Longevity

No specific information is available but it is understood to survive for at least 1 year (PIER, 2012).

Environmental Requirements

This is a tropical grass that suffers when temperatures fall below about 4.4ºC (40ºF), and dies to the ground when it freezes. If the roots do not freeze, though, it usually comes back in spring.
Drought tolerance of young plants is low but established clumps may survive moderate drought conditions.  
In China, Zeng XiaoPing et al. (2006) concluded that S. palmifolia had only moderate shade-tolerance, classing it with coffee in this character.

Climate

Climate typeDescriptionPreferred or toleratedRemarks
Af - Tropical rainforest climate> 60mm precipitation per monthPreferred 
Am - Tropical monsoon climateTropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))Preferred 
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer< 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])Tolerated 
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate< 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])Tolerated 
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all yearWarm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all yearPreferred 

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude lower (m)Altitude upper (m)
3540  

Air Temperature

ParameterLower limit (°C)Upper limit (°C)
Absolute minimum temperature-12 
Mean annual temperature10 
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month 40
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month5 

Rainfall

ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration05number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall5004000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

Bimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

Soil texture > light
Soil texture > medium
Soil reaction > acid
Soil reaction > neutral
Soil drainage > free

Notes on Natural Enemies

Natural enemies of S. palmifolia include the eriophyd mite Catarhinus palmifolies in Taiwan (Huang KunWei, 2005); Phacellium paspali and Cercospora setariae are also reported from Taiwan by Kirschner et al. (2004). The fungus Phyllachora setariicola is also quite widely reported (Cannon, 2001). It is a host of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) in Fiji (Singh et al., 2010). None have been used or tested for biological control.

Natural enemies

Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Catarhinus palmifoliesPredator     
Cercospora setariaePathogen     
Meloidogyne (root knot nematodes)Parasite     
Phacellium paspaliPathogen     
Phyllachora setariicolaPathogen     

Impact Summary

CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenityPositive
Economic/livelihoodPositive and negative
Environment (generally)Negative

Impact: Economic

S. palmifolia is recorded as a weed of transplanted rice in Indonesia, upland rice in Thailand and Vietnam and also in unspecified rice systems in India and Nepal (IRRI, 1989). It can be abundant in tea plantations in Assam and has been recorded in wheat in Kashmir, but there are no data on economic losses or other costs incurred.
Growing wild in Assam, India, it gives fresh fodder yields of about 110.6 t/ha in 4 cuts. In trials with Jersey X Danish Red calves fed S. palmifolia ad lib., average dry matter intake was 2.1 kg/100 kg live-weight. The grass contained 8.8% digestible crude protein (DCP), 579% total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 48.5% starch equivalent. The calves showed positive balance for N, Ca and P (Bora et al., 1990). Protein was considered of good quality (Bradbury et al., 1985).
It is included in a mix of grasses fed to cattle in Sikkim (Das, 2005) and is regarded as an important component of natural pastures for goats in Meghalaya (Singh and Mudgal, 1999). Its nutritive value of was estimated in goats: the grass contained 47.6% TDN, 8.16% DCP and 28% starch equivalent with a nutritive ratio of 1:4.8; however, Gupta and Balaraman (1988) concluded that intake of grass in terms of TDN and minerals were inadequate to meet maintenance requirements of goats.

Impact: Environmental

S. palmifolia is included among the valuable food plants for wildlife in the Mahananda wildlife sanctuary and other wildlife reserves of north Bengal, India (Ghosh, 1994).
S. palmifolia is among the plants posing a specific threat to endangered species Poa mannii and Phyllostegia warshaueri in Hawaii (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1998; 2010).
PIER (2012) records it as invasive in Australia, New Zealand and on a number of Pacific Islands. Vigorous, monospecific stands of S. palmifolia occur in the Vailima Reserve and the Alaoa area in Samoa (Space and Flynn, 2002). The concern in these cases is mainly regarding threats to natural vegetation rather than to crops.
It is regarded as an environmental weed in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia, but has not been declared or considered noxious by any state government authorities.

Threatened Species

Threatened speciesWhere threatenedMechanismsReferencesNotes
Phyllostegia warshaueri (Laupahoehoe phyllostegia)
Hawaii
Competition - shading
 
Poa mannii (Mann's bluegrass)
Hawaii
Competition - shading
 

Risk and Impact Factors

Invasiveness

Invasive in its native range
Proved invasive outside its native range
Has a broad native range
Abundant in its native range
Tolerant of shade
Long lived
Fast growing
Has high reproductive potential
Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year

Impact outcomes

Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
Monoculture formation
Negatively impacts agriculture
Negatively impacts forestry
Threat to/ loss of endangered species
Threat to/ loss of native species

Impact mechanisms

Competition - monopolizing resources
Competition - shading
Rapid growth

Likelihood of entry/control

Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant

Uses

The main economic use of S. palmifolia is as an ornamental plant. Seed is widely available on the internet and the plant is valued for its robust, striking palm-like foliage. 
It is not clear how often it is deliberately planted as a forage but where it occurs as a natural component of pasture, it regarded as of reasonable value though not as productive as many other species.
S. palmifolia has been used in the past as a human food source (Austin, 2006) and may still be in Papua New Guinea (FAO, 2012). It is also used for medicinal purposes, e.g. by the Mek tribes in Iranian Jaya, New Guinea (Plarre, 1995). In Perak a decoction is drunk for irregular menses and in the Philippines it is mixed with ashes of burned leaves to treat skin disorders (Plants for Use, 2012).
It is also used as shading material in plant nurseries.

Uses List

Medicinal, pharmaceutical > Traditional/folklore
Animal feed, fodder, forage > Fodder/animal feed
Ornamental > Potted plant
Ornamental > Propagation material
Ornamental > Seed trade

Prevention and Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Physical/Mechanical Control

Small clumps can be dug out but protective clothing may be needed to protect against irritant hairs (Aukland Council, 2012).

Nutritional Requirements

Optimal nitrogen application in Sikkim was 100kg/ha (Singh, 1999).

Links to Websites

NameURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

References

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Austin DF, 2006. Fox-tail millets (Setaria: Poaceae) - abandoned food in two hemispheres. Economic Botany, 60(2):143-158.
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