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Yellow thatching grass (Hyperthelia dissoluta)


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

Yellow thatching grass [English]; geeltamboekiegras [Afrikaans]


Andropogon ruprechtii Hack., Anthistiria dissoluta Nees ex Steud., Hyparrhenia dissoluta (Nees ex Steud.) C. E. Hubb., Hyparrhenia ruprechtii (Hack.) E. Fourn.

Related feed(s) 

Yellow thatching grass (Hyperthelia dissoluta (Nees ex Steud.) Clayton) is a tufted perennial up to 3 m high. The culms are erect, unbranched, yellow but partly covered by a green sheath (FAO, 2010). Leaf blades are 15-30 cm long x 12 mm broad and glabrous (FAO, 2010; Quattrocchi, 2006). Dead leaves are purple or red-brown (FAO, 2010). The inflorescence is a narrow, stiff purplish-red panicle, compound of two-paired, 2-3 cm long racemes (Clayton et al., 2006).

Yellow thatching grass is a useful grass. It is readily grazed in the early stages of growth but later becomes woody and less palatable. It may yield 25 t/ha green matter (FAO, 2010). It is suitable for making hay and silage in the early stage of growth (Bartha, 1970). Mature plants are used for matting, thatching or reed-work (Quattrocchi, 2006).


Yellow thatching grass is native to tropical Africa. It is naturalized in Central America and in islands of the western Indian ocean (Clayton et al., 2006). It is found in sandy soils from sea level up to an altitude of 3000 m. It grows well in areas where rainfall is higher than 650 mm (FAO, 2010). It often grows in disturbed lands, open deciduous bushland (in association with Combretum), savannahs, velds, field margins and roadsides (Quattrocchi, 2006).

Environmental impact 

Yellow thatching grass withstands fires and increases slightly after grassland burning (FAO, 2010). It is a strong competitor for soil N and P, and a very effective N-user (Cech et al., 2010). It can form dense stands in undergrazed veld, and is then difficult to eradicate (Anon., 2010).

Nutritional aspects

Yellow thatching grass is relished by cattle and African buffaloes (Aremu et al., 2008; Bartha, 1970). The cover of yellow thatching grass decreased by 51% when grazed by steers at 0.4-0.55 steer/ha (Denny et al., 1983). In the very early stage of growth it is completely grazed, but in the later stages the stems are usually left ungrazed and the spikelets, pungently bristled, injure the muzzle of stock: only the leaves are eaten (FAO, 2010; Burkill, 1985). In Niger, camels do not graze it at all. However, in Ghana, cattle searching for foliage below inflorescence level have been observed eating it (Burkill, 1985).

In the Limpopo Province, in South Africa, yellow thatching grass is poorly ranked by farmers who consider it as very hard and not eaten by ruminant animals: cattle, goats and sheep (Matlebyane et al., 2010).

Nutritional tables

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
Dry matter % as fed 39.3 5.8 25.6 49.7 20
Crude protein % DM 5.7 2.2 2.7 12.9 25
Crude fibre % DM 34.9 4.1 28.0 44.8 25
NDF % DM 70.1 *
ADF % DM 40.8 *
Lignin % DM 5.5 *
Ether extract % DM 1.7 0.3 1.2 2.2 18
Ash % DM 9.8 2.9 5.3 16.7 25
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.8 *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Calcium g/kg DM 4.5 1.3 2.0 6.4 20
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.2 0.4 0.5 1.9 20
Potassium g/kg DM 9.5 2.0 5.8 13.9 18
Sodium g/kg DM 0.3 0.1 0.5 2
Magnesium g/kg DM 2.3 0.5 1.3 2.9 18
Manganese mg/kg DM 272 141 403 2
Zinc mg/kg DM 11 9 14 2
Copper mg/kg DM 3 2 3 2
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 61.0 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 58.3 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.4 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.4 *

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


Bartha, 1970; CIRAD, 1991; Dougall et al., 1960; Pozy et al., 1996; Sen et al., 1965

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:25

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
Dry matter % as fed 92.6 1
Crude protein % DM 6.8 1
Crude fibre % DM 36.9 1
NDF % DM 72.0 *
ADF % DM 42.9 *
Lignin % DM 6.0 *
Ether extract % DM 1.5 1
Ash % DM 5.8 1
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18.6 *
Ruminant nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb
OM digestibility, Ruminant % 56.5 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 53.1 *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.9 *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.0 *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 62.1 1

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


Walker, 1975

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:45:25

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., 2015. Yellow thatching grass (Hyperthelia dissoluta). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/429 Last updated on October 15, 2015, 17:25

English correction by Tim Smith (Animal Science consultant) and Hélène Thiollet (AFZ)
Image credits