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Big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Big-leaf bristle grass, broad-leafed bristle grass, bigleaf bristlegrass, buffalo grass, bush buffalo grass, forest buffalo grass, buffel grass, horse grass, corn of horses, fine sword grass, macopo grass, palm grass, ribbon bristle grass, ribbon grass, broad-leaved setaria, broad-leaved bristle grass [English]; omacelele, omucelele, muselele [Angola]; ekoko enumbà pwipwi [Cameroon]; awaha, wadjere [Ghana]; gbogola [Guinea]; abobonia, aboigna, aboya, aguan, denzenbré, djuaya, hintsun, kotsinté, maka, moya moya [Ivory Coast]; ka [Liberia]; akarakà, oka esin, okaeshin, okaesin, okeshin, okesin [Nigeria]; anfonte, bobo, bobo yamba, foni, foyondo, furudevakali, hos gras, kafonte, kegbil, kebilkelen, keroi, koseaxuli, mbobo, mbowi, mbowo, mbowola, mboworo,ndogobeni, njopo bowi, tira, tukodobi, wogowagana, xoriexuli [Sierra Leone]; riffelblaarsetaria, riffelblaarmannagras, sclitzgras, sclitz gras, macopo grass, bosbuffelsgras, breëblaar borselgras, breëblaarsetaria; mufhafha (Venda) [South-Africa]; oka esin, okaeshin, okaesin [Yoruba] (USDA, 2019; Hyde et al., 2019; Quattrocchi, 2006)


Setaria chevalieri Stapf & C. E. Hubb., Setaria plicatilis (Hochst.) Hack. ex Engl., Setaria palmifolia auct. non (J. Koenig) Stapf

Related feed(s) 

Big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla (Steud) Dur. & Schinz.) is a tropical and subtropical perennial grass.


Setaria megaphylla is a robust perennial tufted grass growing up to 2.5-3 m in height and often forming large clumps. It has erect, slender to robust culms, over 1 cm in diameter, densely covered in irritating hairs (Flore du Gabon, 2019; Hyde et al., 2019). Setaria megaphylla can root from the nodes and is often rhizomatous (Quattrocchi, 2006). Leaf blades are linear to linear lanceolate, conspicuously plicate, 1 m in length and up to 8-9 (-11) cm broad. Leaf sheaths are hairy to densely pubescent. The inflorescence is a loose open cylindrical, inconspicuously bristled panicle, 60 cm long and 15 cm in diameter, bearing 2.2-3.5 mm long spikelets (Burkill, 1985).


Big-leaf bristle grass is used as forage and fodder grass as it is appreciated by all stock. It is valuable for ground cover and soil rehabilitation in stream bank stabilization and channel plug developement. The leaves can be used for thatching and hut building. The ashes provide a vegetable salt (Quattrocchi, 2006). In eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Setaria megaphylla leaves are used for mashing bananas in order to make beer and bunches of leaves are used to wash dishes (Terashima et al., 1992). Big-leaf bristle grass is a shade-loving grass that can be used as an ornamental in restored areas (Wildflower Nursery, 2019).


Big-leaf bristle grass is a very hardy species that is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, America and India, in areas where rain falls during summer. It is found from sea level up to an altitude of 1800 m in savannahs, grasslands, along streams and in low-lying areas and shady places like forests or plantations (Wildflower Nursery, 2019; Hankey et al., 2002). Setaria megaphylla can grow in moist or wet places (stream and river banks, channels), shaded or semi-shaded areas on loamy soils and on degraded areas (Hyde et al., 2019; Wildflower Nursery, 2019; Quattrocchi, 2006).

Forage management 

As a stoloniferous species, Setaria megaphylla should be propagated by division rather than by seed sowing (Hankey et al., 2002). It can be grazed or used in cut-and-carry systems (Hankey et al., 2002; Burkill, 1985).

Environmental impact 

Soil coverage and rehabilitation

Setaria megaphylla can be used for soil cover and rehabilitation of stream banks and degraded soils as it can stabilize unstable soil and prevent soil erosion (Ethekwini, 2008; Quattrocchi, 2006). 

Water purification

Big-leaf bristle grass plays a major role in water purification as it absorbs excess nutrients from the water (Hankey et al., 2002).


Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Big-leaf bristle grass has a relatively poor nutritive value, with a protein content lower than 10% DM. 


Potential constraints 

Scouring, cyanogenic poisoning and tsetse fly

There have been reports of scouring in livestock grazing Setaria megaphylla. When it is used in cut-and-carry systems, careful wilting should be done to prevent hydrocyanic acid poisoning. In Kenya, it has been reported to harbour tsetse fly, making livestock at risk of suffering from trypanosomiasis (Burkill, 1985).


Setaria megaphylla leaves are palatable and are browsed by game (Grow Wild, 2019). It has been reported to be among the main grasses eaten by buffaloes in the Serengeti Park (Melletti et al., 2014). As a pasture grass, it is good for grazing while still young when it is palatable with high leaf production (Hankey et al., 2002). In Sierra Leone, it has been recommended to grow big-leaf bristle grass for pasture as it provides valuable fodder for ruminants while preventing soil erosion (Whyte, 1947).


No information found (as of 2019)


No information found (as of 2019)


Literature on Setaria megaphylla utilisation in rabbit feeding is very scarce. In October 2018, the unique reference available in the international literature is a mention of the utilisation of its leaves by farmers of the northern part of Angola to feed their rabbits, without indication on the conditions of this utilisation (Göhre et al., 2016). Before recommending this grass in rabbit feeding more information and, if possible, direct experiments are necessary. However, according to the chemical composition, it should be mainly used as a source of fibre (74% NDF) with a low digestible energy content of about 5.6 MJ/kg DM and a digestibility coefficient of nitrogen around 40% (Lebas, 2016).

Horses and donkeys 

No information found (as of 2019)


No information found (as of 2019)

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Crude protein % DM 8.9 2.6 4.6 11.7 6  
Crude fibre % DM 39.5 3.6 33.5 42.5 5  
Ether extract % DM 1.2 0.4 0.7 1.8 6  
Ash % DM 8.4 2.2 5.8 12.1 6  
Insoluble ash % DM 4   3.2 4.9 4  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 74.3       1 *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 45.7       1 *
Lignin % DM 6.6       1 *
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.3       1 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 1.9   1.5 2.4 4  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.5   1.2 1.8 4  
Magnesium g/kg DM 3.5   3.3 4.1 4  
Potassium g/kg DM 9.6   7.2 12.4 4  
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.5         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 7.6         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 51.9         *
OM digestibility, ruminants % 54.3         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1960; du Toit, 2017

Last updated on 10/07/2019 10:43:22

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2019. Big-leaf bristle grass (Setaria megaphylla). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/383 Last updated on September 19, 2019, 15:19

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