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False Rhodes grass (Trichloris crinita)


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

False rhodes grass, two flowered trichloris, multiflowered chloris [English]; papalote, triverdin de tres [Spanish, Mexico]


Leptochloa crinita , Chloris crinita (Lag.), Chloris mendocina Phil., Trichloris mendocina (Phil.) Kurtz

Taxonomic information 

In 2012, the genus Trichloris was embedded in Leptochloa and the species Trichloris crinita was renamed Leptochloa crinita (Snow et al., 2012). However, as of 2021, this change has not been accepted everywhere.

Related feed(s) 

False Rhodes grass (Trichloris crinita (Lag.) Parodi) is a perennial grass native to the arid tropical and subtropical areas of the American continent. This is a warm season C4 forage with good palatability and nutritive value. It plays an important role in livestock production in arid and semi-arid zones.


Trichloris crinita is a showy, leafy, (sometimes) stoloniferous perennial bunchgrass that reaches 0.7-1 m in height and follows the C4 photosynthetic pathway. The leaves are flat, linear, 20 cm long x 0.5-1 cm wide, coarsely hairy of their upper surface, completely covered with a waxy coating. The seed-head is a conspicuous feathery digitate panicle, white in colour, borne at the apex of a blueish green slender culm. The spikelets are small and solitary, with one sterile floret and a fertile one below. The glumes are lanceolate, pubescent and persistent, with the upper glume apex composed of three awns, the central awn longer than the laterals awns. False rhodes grass is autogamous (Barkworth, 2021; ACE, 2020; Kozub et al., 2017).


Trichloris crinita is tolerant of trampling and grazing. It has excellent forage value to livestock and wildlife and provides good nesting cover to ground nesting birds (Barkworth, 2021; Silva Colomer et al., 1989; Wainstein et al., 1969). It is considered suitable to be used in reclamation processes (Gil Baez et al., 2015).


Trichloris crinita is native to arid areas of both North and South America. It is found at elevations up to 1500 m in both hemispheres, in dry flats, canyons and rocky slopes (ACE, 2020). It grows as soon as residual water is available in the soil and the temperature is above 10°C. In natural grasslands, it is often found in association with other C4 grasses, shrubs (belonging to genus Larrea), and some tree species from the genus Prosopis (Kozub et al., 2017). False rhodes grass is considered a halophyte or salt tolerant species (Brevedan et al., 1994).

Agronomic traits like high tolerance to drought and salinity, to trampling and grazing and its nutritive value suggest that this species could be used in breeding programms to enhance the quality of South American drylands (Kozub et al., 2017). It was suggested that dry environments could play a role in selecting grazing-resistant genotypes and that high grazing pressure history environments would be favourable to select drought-resistant ones (Quiroga et al., 2010).

Forage management 


Forage yields of Trichloris crinita were reported to be very variable: dry matter (DM) yields ranged in experimental plots from 0.34 to 6.64 t/ha and in experimental fields from 1.5 to 3.66 t/ha (Kozub et al., 2017). Yields (150 g DM/m²) ranked first ahead other native species in the arid grasslands of Argentina whose yields were mainly under 60 g DM/m² (Cavagnaro et al., 1983 cited by Kozub et al., 2017). In North-western Argentina, fresh matter yield of false rhodes grass was 10-11.9 t/ha. False rhodes grass was the highest yielding native species of the region (Diaz et al., 1972).


To preserve forage production, it was recommended to let 15 cm above ground after cutting or grazing for optimal yield. Intense defoliation (lower than 5 cm above ground) destroyed the basal buds situated in the crown and was detrimental to tillering, compromising forage yield. Frequent or intense cutting (i.e., cutting at = 5 cm from ground level) also reduced reseeding capacity because the plants are not able to flower (Cavagnaro et al, 1983 cited by Kozub et al., 2017).

In Patagonia (Argentina), it was found that keeping Trichloris crinita free of grazing during summer and fall enhanced its forage value as deferred feed in winter and increased its yields (Klich, 2014). In areas with harsh conditions, adequate management of false rhodes grass could provide livestock with forage of relatively good nutritional value and high digestibility (Klich, 2020).

Environmental impact 

Trichloris crinita was suggested for protection against soil erosion (Dalmasso, 1994).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Trichloris crinita has a moderate nutritive quality. In the Chaco arid region in Northern Argentina, protein content varied from 5% (October, dry season mature plants) to 16% (December, rainy season, young plants) and it compared favourably to that of other native grasses (Ferrando et al., 2006). In Patagonia, protein content varied from 12 to 15% DM (Klich, 2020). In the central Pampa, protein content varied only between 7 and 9% depending on season (Cerqueira et al., 2004). It is relatively rich in fibre (NDF 67-80% DM), which explains its often low in vitro DM digestibility values: 40-50% and sometimes down to 30-40% in the arid Chaco, with higher values reported in Patagonia (58-68%).


Literature is scarce on the use and recommendations for ruminants grazing false rhodes grass. However, it has often been referred to as a valuable forage resource for livestock in extended semiarid rangeland territories of South America (Ruiz Leal 1972; Ragonese 1951 cited by Brevedan et al., 1994). False rhodes grass could be used as deffered feed for cows during winter: it provided higher DM and cow's intake was higher (Klich, 2014).


No information seems available in the international literature (March 2021) on the use of false rhodes grass in domestic rabbit feeding. However it is consumed by the local herbivorous rodents such as Chacoan cavy (Pediolagus salinicola), Mendoza tuco-tuco (Ctenomys mendocinus) or mara (Dolichotis patagonum) (Reus et al., 2012; Puig et al., 1999; Rosati et al., 1995). It is also consumed by the introduced European hare (Reus et al., 2012), also relished by domestic livestock (El Shaer et al., 2016;Klich, 2014; Brevedan et al., 2013). For all these reasons, false rhodes grass may be considered as a potential forage for rabbit feeding. As for other feed materials poorly or not studied in rabbit feeding, direct experiments with rabbits would be welcome to determine the limits of introduction in the diet.

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  
Dry matter % as fed 42.9 3.4 37.2 48.8 13  
Crude protein % DM 9.3 2.1 4.8 15.9 36  
Crude fibre % DM 31.4       1  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 74.8 4 66.7 80.1 18  
Acid detergent fibre % DM 42.7 6.2 28.4 50.2 18  
Lignin % DM 5.2 2 2.2 7.3 5  
Ash % DM 9.7   9.2 10 4  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 18         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 3.2   2.7 3.6 2  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 1.7   1.3 2.1 2  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 57.7         *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 55.2         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 9.9         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8         *
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 6.6         *
MEn rabbit MJ/kg DM 6.4         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 36.9         *
Nitrogen digestibility, rabbit % 46.1         *

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


Brevedan et al., 1994; Cerqueira et al., 2004; Ferrando et al., 2006; Gil Baez et al., 2015; Klich, 2020; Silva Colomer et al., 1989

Last updated on 16/09/2021 16:46:44

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Lebas F., 2021. False Rhodes grass (Trichloris crinita). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/657 Last updated on September 16, 2021, 17:11