Scientific Name:
Cenchrus L., Sp. Pl. 1049 (1753)
  • = Pennisetum Rich. (1805)
Type Taxon:
Cenchrus echinatus L.

Annuals or perennials. Leaf-sheath compressed. Ligule reduced to ciliate rim. Leaf-blade flat or involute. Culm terete, solid. Inflorescence a solitary spike-like panicle of prickly glomerules, composed of coalescing spines; spikelets sessile, solitary, or in clusters of 2–5 surrounded by, and deciduous with the sessile or minutely peduncled involucre of ± connate, often rigid, antrorsely or retrorsely scabrid spines or bristles. Spikelets 2-flowered; lower floret ♂, or Ø and reduced to a lemma, upper floret ☿. Glumes usually dissimilar, rarely subequal, hyaline or thinly membranous; lower often 0, or if present, 1–5-nerved, upper ≤ spikelet, 1–5–(7)-nerved. Lower floret: lemma usually similar in texture to upper glume and ≈ spikelet, 3–7-nerved; palea ≈ lemma, 2-keeled. Upper floret: lemma = spikelet, firmly membranous, chartaceous or coriaceous, 5–7-nerved; palea = lemma; lodicules 0; stamens 3; ovary apex glabrous, styles terminal, free, or connate below; caryopsis dorsiventrally compressed, glabrous, embryo c. ⅔ length of caryopsis, hilum basal, punctiform.

[From: Edgar and Connor (2000) Flora of New Zealand. Volume 5 (second printing).]

Indigenous (Non-endemic)
Number of species in New Zealand within Cenchrus L.
Indigenous (Non-endemic)1
Exotic: Fully Naturalised6
Exotic: Casual1
Biosecurity New Zealand 2012: Regional Pest Management Strategies Database. [as Pennisetum Rich.]
Biosecurity New Zealand 4 Aug 2011: Unwanted Organisms Register. [as Pennisetum Rich.]
Biosecurity New Zealand 2008: National Plant Pest Accord. MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, Wellington. [as Pennisetum Rich.]
Chemisquy, M.A.; Giussani, L.M.; Scataglini, M.A.; Kellogg, E.A.; Morrone, O. 2010: Phylogenetic studies favour the unification of Pennisetum, Cenchrus and Odontelytrum (Poaceae): a combined nuclear, plastid and morphological analysis, and nomenclatural combinations in Cenchrus. Annals of Botany 106: 107–130.
Linnaeus, C. 1753: Species Plantarum. Impensis Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm.
Mabberley, D.J. 2008: Mabberley's plant book, a portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses. Edition 3. Cambridge University Press.
Ministry for Primary Industries 23 Feb 2017: Unwanted Organisms Register. Version 02.01.02. [as Pennisetum Rich.]
Simon, B.K. 2010: New taxa, nomenclatural changes and notes on Australian grasses in the tribe Paniceae (Poaceae: Panicoideae). Austrobaileya 8: 187–221.