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Saccharum spontaneum L.
Family: Poaceae, Tribe: Andropogoneae
Common names: wild sugarcane
Sessile spikelet with pedicel and internode, with or without pedicellate spikelet.
Spikelets homomorphic, 2-7 mm long, awnless, of 1 fertile floret and 1 basal sterile lemma. Spikelet callus with silky silvery hairs 2-3 times longer than spikelet. Glumes as long as spikelet, chartaceous below, membranous above, acuminate, upper margins ciliate; lower glume 2-4 nerved; upper glume keeled. Sterile lemma half as long as spikelet, hyaline. Fertile lemma shorter than sterile lemma, hyaline. Internode and pedicel slender, bearing long hairs; internode ca. 4-7 mm long, pedicel ca. 2-2.5 mm long, apex of pedicel flared and hairy.
Widespread in northern and tropical Africa and South Africa, through the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Southern and Southeast Asia, to Australia, and throughout much of the Pacific Basin; Central America and the Lesser Antilles, United States.
Weedy ecotypes are native to India.
Tropical and subtropical, in a wide range of habitats including marshes, stream banks, sand dunes; tolerates many soil types and moisture levels; a weed of roadsides, waste areas, fields.
Saccharum spontaneum is a tall perennial grass with deep roots and rhizomes, to 4 m tall. Believed to be a predecessor of the important species S. officinarum L. (cultivated sugarcane), it has also been crossed with S. officinarum to yield hardy, disease-resistant sugarcane varieties. Some of the biotypes of S. spontaneum are weedy, infesting a number of crops, mostly in central and Southeast Asia. In India, it has infested millions of acres, often causing abandonment of fields. Deep plowing has helped reduce populations of the weed.