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Themeda triandra facts for kids

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Themeda triandra
Themeda triandra - kangaroo grass.jpg
Scientific classification

Themeda triandra is a perennial tussock-forming grass widespread in Africa, Australia, Asia and the Pacific. In Australia it is commonly known as kangaroo grass and in East Africa and South Africa it is known as red grass and red oat grass or as rooigras in Afrikaans.


Themeda triandra is a grass which grows in dense tufts up to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) tall and 0.5 metres (1 ft 8 in) wide. It flowers in summer, producing large red-brown spikelets on branched stems. The leaves are 10–30 centimetres (3.9–11.8 in) in length and 1–8 millimetres (0.039–0.315 in) wide but can exceed 10–50 centimetres (3.9–19.7 in) long and 2–5 millimetres (0.079–0.197 in) wide. Its inflorescence is compounded, fasciculated, is 10–30 centimetres (3.9–11.8 in) long and composed of a single raceme. It pedicels are oblong and are 0.5 mm long while its lemma is 25–70 millimetres (0.98–2.76 in) long and is both apical and geniculate. The column of lemma's awn is hispidulous and twisted.

Taxonomy and naming

Themeda triandra was first formally described in 1775 by Peter Forsskål who published the description in Flora Aegyptiaco-Arabica. There are many synonyms of this species. The specific epithet (triandra) is the feminine of the Botanical Latin adjective triandrus, meaning 'with three stamens', based on the Greek-derived combining forms tri-, three, and -andrus, male.

Distribution and habitat

Themeda triandra is found across Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Pacific. In Australia, it is found in all of the states and territories. It grows predominantly in grassland and open woodland communities. It is a significant species in temperate grasslands in Australia, a habitat considered to be endangered or threatened in various parts of the country. It does not do well under heavy grazing pressure, but benefits from occasional fire.


The young growth is palatable to stock. T. triandra seed has been used as a famine food in Africa. It also serves as a food source for several avian species, including the long-tailed widowbird. It is also occasionally used as an ornamental plant.


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