home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Pennisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu grass)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Monocotyledons > Order: Poales > Family: Poaceae > Genus: Pennisetum

Pennisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu grass) Pennisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu grass)

Pennisetum clandestinum, Ndundu Lodge, Vumba, Zimbabwe. [photos Bart Wursten , Flora of Zimbabwe]

Pennisetum clandestinum (Kikuyu grass)

Kikuyu grass pasture (foreground) on dairy farm near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal. [photo H.G. Robertson, Iziko ]

Kikuyu grass is native to East Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi) and has been introduced to southern Africa as a lawn and pasture grass. It grows in areas with relatively high rainfall and prefers fertile, well-drained soils. It is regarded as a good pasture grass because it is palatable, digestable, high in protein, low in fibre, responds well to fertilization, and is able to withstand heavy grazing. However, it has also become an invasive grass in certain natural areas of southern Africa. In garden situations it grows rapidly into flower beds and infiltrates into cracks between walls and paving, so it is often not favoured as a lawn grass in these situations.


  • van Oudtshoorn, F. 1999. Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa. Briza, Pretoria.