Invasive Species Compendium

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus
(camel grass)

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Datasheet

Cymbopogon schoenanthus (camel grass)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 10 July 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cymbopogon schoenanthus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • camel grass
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Monocotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Cymbopogon schoenanthus is a perennial grass with fragrant foliage that is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for essential oil extracts from its leaves and roots, and for use as a culinary and medi...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cymbopogon schoenanthus

Preferred Common Name

  • camel grass

Other Scientific Names

  • Andropogon circinnatus Hochst. ex Steud.
  • Andropogon eriophorus Willd.
  • Andropogon lanigerum Desf.
  • Andropogon mascatensis Gand.
  • Andropogon nardoides Nees
  • Andropogon schoenanthus L.
  • Andropogon versicolor Nees ex Steud.
  • Cymbopogon circinnatus (Hochst. & Steud.) Hochst. ex Hack.
  • Cymbopogon versicolor (Nees ex Steud.) W.Watson
  • Sorghum schoenanthus (L.) Kuntze
  • Trachypogon schoenanthus (L.) Nees

International Common Names

  • English: camel’s hay; fever grass; geranium grass; lemon grass
  • Spanish: pasto camello; pasto de camellos
  • French: chiendent pied de poule; herbe à chameau
  • Arabic: haliet makkah; hashma; Idkhir; lemmad; mahareb; shat et-trab; tibn makkah

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: capim-cheiroso; capim-cidreira; capim-cidrilho; capim-de-cheiro; capim-limão
  • Tunisia: el bekhirai

Summary of Invasiveness

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus is a perennial grass with fragrant foliage that is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for essential oil extracts from its leaves and roots, and for use as a culinary and medicinal herb. The species has rhizomes and densely tufted fibrous roots that tiller strongly, and has the potential to escape from cultivation. Once established, C. schoenanthus often behaves as a weed, forming monospecific stands. Currently It is only listed as invasive in Anguilla and included in the Global Compendium of Weeds.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Monocotyledonae
  •                     Order: Cyperales
  •                         Family: Poaceae
  •                             Genus: Cymbopogon
  •                                 Species: Cymbopogon schoenanthus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Poaceae is one of the largest Angiosperm families, comprising 707 genera and approximately 11,337 species widely distributed across all regions of the world (Stevens, 2017). The genus Cymbopogon comprises 59 species distributed across the tropics and subtropics of Asia, Africa and Australia (Flora of China, 2020). Several Cymbopogon species (C. citratus and C. nardus) are cultivated commercially for aromatic oils that are distilled from their leaves. Cymbopogon is closely related to the Andropogon, Chrysopogon, and Hyparrhenia genera, leading to taxonomic complications and frequent misidentification of species (Flora of China, 2020).

Description

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The following description is from Clayton et al. (2006): Perennial, caespitose grass. Culms 30–120 cm long. Leaf-blades filiform, or linear, flat, or involute, 10–35 cm long × 1–4 mm wide, aromatic; leaf-blade surface scaberulous. Inflorescence compound, paniculate, 5–40 cm long, dense; racemes terminal and axillary, enclosed. Racemes 2, paired, deflexed, 1–3 cm long. Rhachis fragile at the nodes, semiterete, villous on margins, hairs 2–4 mm long. Raceme-bases flattened, subequal. Spikelets in pairs. Fertile spikelets sessile, 1 in the cluster. Companion sterile spikelets pedicelled, 1 in the cluster. Pedicels linear, semiterete, villous, with 2–4 mm long hairs. Basal sterile spikelets well-developed, 2 in number (lower raceme), 0 in upper raceme, sessile and pedicelled; basal spikelet pedicels fused to internode in lower raceme, swollen in lower raceme. Fertile spikelets comprising 1 basal sterile floret and 1 fertile floret, without rhachilla extension, dorsally compressed, 4–7 mm long. Glumes dissimilar, exceeding apex of florets, firmer than fertile lemma; lower glume linear, 1 length of spikelet, chartaceous, 2-keeled, keeled all along, keeled laterally, wingless, intercarinal veins absent; upper glume lanceolate, 1-keeled, apex acute. Basal sterile florets barren, without significant palea. Lemma of lower sterile floret hyaline, without keel; lemma apex dentate, bifid, 1-awned; principal lemma awn from a sinus, straight, 5–9 mm long overall, with a straight or slightly twisted column. Column of lemma awn glabrous. Palea absent or minute.

Plant Type

Top of page Grass / sedge
Perennial
Seed propagated
Vegetatively propagated

Distribution

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus is native to the Sahara and Sahel region, from North and West Africa to the Arabian Peninsula (African Plant Database, 2020; Clayton et al., 2020; USDA-ARS, 2020). It has been introduced to India, Brazil, Ecuador, the USA, and Anguilla (Soreng et al., 2003; Sousa et al., 2005; Connor, 2008; India Biodiversity Portal, 2020).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 04 Jul 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AlgeriaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
BeninPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
Burkina FasoPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
Central African RepublicPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
ChadPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
DjiboutiPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
EgyptPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
EritreaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
EthiopiaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
GhanaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
GuineaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
KenyaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
LibyaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
MaliPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
MauritaniaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
MoroccoPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
NigerPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
NigeriaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
RéunionPresentIntroducedClayton et al. (2020)
SenegalPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
SomaliaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
SudanPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
TogoPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
TunisiaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
Western SaharaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)

Asia

IndiaPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2020)
-MaharashtraPresentIntroducedIndia Biodiversity Portal (2020)
IranPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
OmanPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
PalestinePresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
Saudi ArabiaPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)
YemenPresentNativeClayton et al. (2020)

North America

AnguillaPresentIntroducedInvasiveConnor (2008)
United StatesPresentIntroducedSoreng et al. (2003)

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedSousa et al. (2005)Cultivated
EcuadorPresentIntroducedSoreng et al. (2003)

Habitat

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus grows in deserts, semi-arid bushlands, dry steppes, savanna and woodland. It can also be found in open stony areas, stone gullies and disturbed areas along roads and drainage lines (PROTA, 2019).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalScrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Deserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Deserts Present, no further details Natural
Deserts Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for C. schoenanthus is n = 20 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2020).

Environmental Requirements

Cymbopogon schoenanthus prefers to grow in dry and arid habitats at elevations from near sea level to 1,600 m. It grows well in sandy, clay, and sandy loam soils with a pH in the range of 6.1 to 7.8. This species prefers open, sunny areas and resumes growth quickly following rain (Clayton et al., 2006; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019; PROTA, 2019).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
35 15

Rainfall Regime

Top of page Bimodal
Uniform

Soil Tolerances

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Soil reaction

  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus spreads by seeds and vegetatively by rhizomes and tillers (Useful Tropical Plants, 2019; PROTA, 2019).  

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceNaturalized in disturbed sites and along roads Yes Yes PROTA, 2019
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeeds, rhizomes and tillers Yes Yes Useful Tropical Plants, 2019
ForageSometimes used as forage Yes Yes USDA-ARS, 2020
Habitat restoration and improvementOccasionally planted to control soil erosion Yes Yes Useful Tropical Plants, 2019
Medicinal useUsed in traditional African medicine Yes Yes PROTA, 2019

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeeds, rhizomes and tillers Yes Yes Useful Tropical Plants, 2019
WindSeeds Yes Yes Useful Tropical Plants, 2019

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus is regarded as a weedy grass with densely tufted fibrous roots that tillers strongly and rapidly invades disturbed areas, forming monospecific stands (Useful Tropical Plants, 2019; PROTA, 2019; USDA-ARS, 2020). Currently it is only listed as invasive in Anguilla (Connor, 2008), and included in the Global Compendium of Weeds (Randall, 2017).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Long lived
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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Cymbopogon schoenanthus is an aromatic grass harvested from the wild, but also cultivated for its fragrant leaves. Fresh and young leaves are used in salads and as spices or condiments. Leaves are also used to make tea, largely in North Africa. Distillation of the roots and leaves yields a fragrant oil known as “camel grass oil”. C. schoenanthus is also used as a forage crop and occasionally planted to control soil erosion (Sousa et al., 2005; Khadri et al., 2010; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019; PROTA, 2019; USDA-ARS, 2020).

Cymbopogon schoenanthus is also popular in traditional African medicine. In North Africa, the inner core of the rhizome is consumed as an aphrodisiac, while in Ghana, an infusion made with inflorescence is used to control fever. This grass is also used to treat snakebites and gastrointestinal problems, and as a diuretic and appetite stimulant (Khadri et al., 2010; Useful Tropical Plants, 2019; PROTA, 2019).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization

Materials

  • Essential oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

References

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African Plant Database, 2020. African Plant Database. In: African Plant Database : Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de Geneve & South African National Biodiversity Institute.http://www.ville-ge.ch/musinfo/bd/cjb/africa/recherche.php

Clayton, W.D., Vorontsova, M.S., Harman, K.T., Williamson, H., 2006. GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html

Clayton, WD, Govaerts, R, Harman, KT, Williamson, H, Vorontsova, M, 2020. World Checklist of Poaceae. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/

Connor, RA, 2008. Anguilla Invasive Species Strategy. http://www.gov.ai/documents/Anguilla%20Invasive%20Species%20Strategy%202008%20%282%29.pdf

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2020. Flora of China. In: Flora of China St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

India Biodiversity Portal, 2020. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity . http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Khadri, A., Neffati, M., Smiti, S., Falé, P., Lino, A. R. L., Serralheiro, M. L. M., Araújo, M. E. M., 2010. Antioxidant, antiacetylcholinesterase and antimicrobial activities of Cymbopogon schoenanthus L. Spreng (lemon grass) from Tunisia. LWT - Food Science and Technology, 43(2), 331-336. doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2009.08.004

Missouri Botanical Garden, 2020. Tropicos database. In: Tropicos database St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.tropicos.org/

PROTA, 2019. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Randall, R. P., 2017. A global compendium of weeds, (Ed.3) [ed. by Randall, R. P.]. Perth, Australia: R. P. Randall.iii + 3653 pp.

Soreng, R J, Davidse, G, Peterson, PM, Zuloaga, FO, Judziewicz, EJ, Filgueiras, TS, Morrone, O, 2003. On-line taxonomic novelties and updates, distributional additions and corrections, and editorial changes since the four published volumes of the Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae) published in Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. Vols. 39, 41, 46, and 48.

Sousa, EMBDD, Câmara, APC, Costa, WA, Costa, ACJ, Oliveira, HNM, Galvão, EL, Marques, MMO, 2005. Evaluation of the extraction process of the essential oil from Cymbopogon schoenanthus with pressurized carbon dioxide. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology, 48, 231-6.

Stevens, P. F., 2017. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. In: Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14 . St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

USDA-ARS, 2020. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

Useful Tropical Plants, 2019. Useful tropical plants database. In: Useful tropical plants database : K Fern.http://tropical.theferns.info/

Distribution References

Clayton WD, Govaerts R, Harman KT, Williamson H, Vorontsova M, 2020. World Checklist of Poaceae., London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/

Connor RA, 2008. Anguilla Invasive Species Strategy., http://www.gov.ai/documents/Anguilla%20Invasive%20Species%20Strategy%202008%20%282%29.pdf

India Biodiversity Portal, 2020. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity, http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

Soreng R J, Davidse G, Peterson PM, Zuloaga FO, Judziewicz EJ, Filgueiras TS, Morrone O, 2003. On-line taxonomic novelties and updates, distributional additions and corrections, and editorial changes since the four published volumes of the Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae) published in Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. Vols. 39, 41, 46, and 48.,

Sousa EMBDD, Câmara APC, Costa WA, Costa ACJ, Oliveira HNM, Galvão EL, Marques MMO, 2005. Evaluation of the extraction process of the essential oil from Cymbopogon schoenanthus with pressurized carbon dioxide. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology. 231-6.

Distribution Maps

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