Axonopus scoparius

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© Environmental and Conservation Programs, The Field Museum, Chicago.

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Scientific name

Axonopus scoparius (Flüggé) Kuhlm.


Paspalum iridifolium Poepp.
Paspalum scopariumFlüggé


Family: Poaceae (alt. Gramineae) subfamily: Panicoideae tribe: Paniceae.

Common names

imperial grass , capim Colômbia (Brazil);  maicillo (Peru);  cachi (Central America).

Morphological description

Perennial, 0.6–2 m in height, forming tufts with succulent stems (also reported to spread on slopes by long stolons).  Leaves glabrous or hairy on the upper surface, 10–60 cm long and 5–35 mm wide.  Inflorescence is a terminal and/or axillary panicle , 10–30 cm long, often purplish with 10–100 (mostly 15–25) spikes, 10–15 cm long.  Spikelets slightly hairy, 2.5–3 mm long.

A. scoparius is rather similar to the closely related micay grass (Axonopus micay García-Barr.).  The latter can be distinguished by its non-tufted, creeping, rhizomatous habit, shorter growth (thus used for grazing), much shorter central rachis of the panicle and lower number of spikelets/spike .


Native to:
North America:  Mexico.
Mesoamerica:  Costa Rica, Panama.
South America:  Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela.


Used as cut forage (fresh and as silage);  reported to be the main cut-and-carry grass in the coffee zone of Colombia, but increasingly being replaced by king grass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach. x Pennisetum americanum (L.) Leeke).


Soil requirements

Prefers well-drained, fertile soils with high organic matter content, but will also grow on acid, less fertile soils.


Well adapted to the moist, sub-humid to humid tropics with 1,000 to >2,000 mm  AAR;  not very drought tolerant.


Grows well in a fairly wide temperature range (14–26ºC);  in Colombia, best growth from 1,200–2,000 m asl ;  at altitudes <600 m, night temperatures need to be low.


No information available.

Reproductive development

No information available.


Mainly used as a cut-and-carry grass ;  cutting at soil surface recommended.


No information available.


Guidelines for the establishment and manag