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Genus Megathyrsus Family Poaceae

Description: Caespitose perennials with short, thick rhizomes with erect culms

Nodes pubescent or glabrous. Sheaths glabrous or pubescent, sometimes with papillose-based hairs, margins sometimes ciliate; ligule of hairs; blade flat, erect or ascending, glabrous or with hairs, sometimes with appressed papillose-based hairs, margins sometimes ciliate basally.

Inflorescence an open panicle with smooth or scabrous rachis, branches single or whorled at the lowest nodes, lower axils with a tuft of hairs, base, upper axils glabrous. Spikelets solitary, paired or in triplets, usually appressed to the branch axes. Glumes appresed to the florets, rachilla between the glumes not pronounced; lower shorter than the spikelet, 1–3-veined, obtuse or truncate, glabrous; upper glume subequal to the upper floret, 5-veined, glabrous. Sterile lower lemma staminate, subequal to the upper floret, glabrous, 5-veined, without cross venation, acute, muticous or mucronate. Upper fertile lemma ellipsoid, pale, glabrous, transversely rugose, apices acute or mucronulate.

Distribution and occurrence: A genus of 2 species from Africa.

M. maximus is widely planted as a pasture species and has become a weed in the tropics and subtropics. Named after a section of the genus Panicum that in turn was named after the Latin for large and 'thyrsus', a more or less ovoid or ellipsoid panicle with cymose branches.

Text by Jacobs, S.W.L., Whalley, R.D.B. & Wheeler, D.J.B.
Taxon concept: Grasses of New South Wales, Fourth Edition (2008).

One species in NSW: Megathyrsus maximus

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