Coix angulata Mill.
Coix dactyloides L.
Dactylodes angulatum Kuntze
Dactylodes dactyloides (L.) Kuntze
Ischaemum glabrum Walter
Tripsacum bravum J.R.Gray
Tripsacum compressum E.Fourn.
Tripsacum floridanum Porter ex Vasey
Tripsacum monostachyon Willd.
Common Name: Sesame Grass
Photograph by: thesix
Sesame grass is an extremely variable, evergreen perennial, clump-forming grass. It has short, fibrous, knotty rhizomes and deep hollow roots, with culms that are usually 2 - 3 metres tall, occasionally to 4 metres, and 3 - 5cm in diameter. The plant produces prop-roots from the lower nodes[
This species is currently (1992) under development as a potential perennial grain crop[
]. The seed has a very high protein content and this can be sacrificed to some extent in order to try and improve overall yields (these are quite low at present)[
]. The plant can be used in soil conservation projects and is often grown as an ornamental.
S. America - Guyanas; C. America - Costa Rica, Honduras; Caribbean - Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti; N. America - Mexico to Florida, to Massachusetts
Swales, moist fields, woodland edges and shores[
]. Water courses and limestone outcrops[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Sesame grass can be found from the cold temperate zone right through to the tropics. It is usually found at elevations above 50 metres in the tropics, but descends to sea level in the temperate zone. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 10 - 24°c, but can tolerate 7 - 30°c[
]. A fairly hardy plant, it can withstand quite severe frosts, though the top growth will be killed off and the plant will regrow when warmer weather returns[
]. The plant can survive temperatures as low as -30°c, but requires at least 140 frost free days per year for longer-term persistence[
]. It grows best in areas with a mean annual rainfall between 900 - 1,500mm, but can tolerate down to 600mm if growing in a good soil[
Prefers a position in full sun, tolerating part shade[
]. The plant grows very well in shady locations near water[
]. A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained soil but can tolerate poorly drained conditions with occasional, short-lived waterlogging[
]. The plant can effectively penetrate clay pan layers with a clay contents of 30 - 50% clay, forming extensive root channels in the clay pan layer especially where it had been growing for more than 50 years[
]. In a series of experiments conducted in greenhouses, the plant exhibited tolerance to low soil pH, high soil aluminum concentrations and high soil strength[
]. Succeeds in a range of soils from sandy to clayey[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5[
]. The plant has a dense root system extending to 4.5 metres deep, which gives it at least moderate drought tolerance, but it produces little growth in dry weather[
Closely related to Tripsacum floridanum[
Bi-generic hybrids with Zea spp are known to occur[
Seed - cooked or ground into a flour[
]. The popped seed is almost indistinguishable from strawberry popcorn[
]. Seeds contain about 27% protein, this is about 3 times the protein found in corn and twice that of wheat. It is also about twice as high in the amino acid methionine as corn[
The plant can be used in soil conservation projects[
The plant has received considerable attention for use in vegetative barriers for soil erosion control because the crown has the capacity to elevate coarse aerial foliage above sediment deposition and to anchor the plant with stout brace roots[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Division in spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.