We start this series on Grass of the Region with the species regarded as the most valuable grass in sourveld. Themeda triandra grows abundantly when the veld is in good condition.
Red Grass (Themeda triandra)
The grass is green to blue-green, tufted, and is often flushed with pink. As it ages, the colour deepens to red. The spikelets (grass flowers) form wedge-shaped clusters, sometimes hairy, which tend to hang down.
The species name tri (three) and andr (man) is Greek, referring to the three male spikelets surrounding the bisexual spikelet in each cluster.
Themeda is fire resistant, increasing with frequent burning provided it is not overgrazed. The grass is palatable, and an important and well-known grazing grass.
The grass grows in regions with average to high rainfall, and is common in altitudes between 1300 and 3000 meters above sea level.
Themeda triandra occurs only in southern Africa, though it is one of 18 Themeda species occurring across the world.
Interesting fact: The long awns (long bristle-like projections) of the spikelet twirl when wet, and drive the seed into the ground.
Flowers: between October and July.
Height: between 300mm and 1500 mm
Uses: grazing; indicator of good veld conditions