Eragrostis tef (Zuccagni) Trotter

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Synonyms: Eragrostis abyssinica (Jacq.) Link
Eragrostis pilosa var. abyssinica (Jacq.) Asch. & P. Graebn.
Eragrostis pilosa var. tef (Zuccagni) Fiori
Poa abyssinica Jacq.
Poa tef Zuccagni
Common names:
Status: Native
Loosely caespitose annual; culms up to 90 cm tall, usually erect, branched or unbranched, glabrous at the nodes, eglandular; leaf sheaths glabrous; ligule a line of hairs; leaf laminas 6–30 cm × 2–4 mm, linear, flat or involute, glabrous, eglandular.Panicle 10–40 cm long, lanceolate to broadly ovate, diffuse or contracted, the spikelets evenly distributed on slender flexuous pedicels 4–9 mm long, the lowermost primary branches in a whorl, the remainder not so, terminating in a fertile spikelet, glabrous or thinly long-pilose in the axils, slender and flexuous, eglandular.Spikelets 5.5–9 × 1.5–2 mm, narrowly oblong, lightly laterally compressed, 4–12-flowered, the florets remaining intact for some time on the persistent rhachilla, very tardily deciduous; glumes unequal, reaching to about the middle of the adjacent lemmas, keeled, lanceolate in profile, glabrous, subacute to acute or acuminate at the apex, the inferior 1.2–2.5 mm long, the superior 1.7–3 mm long; lemmas 2–2.7 mm long, keeled, oblong-elliptic to oblong-ovate in profile, thinly membranous with distinct lateral nerves, at first appressed to the rhachilla and those in opposite rows with overlapping margins concealing the rhachilla, later diverging and exposing the rhachilla as the caryopsis swells, straw-coloured to dark green or reddish, glabrous, subacute to acute at the apex; palea very tardily deciduous with the lemma, glabrous on the flanks, the keels slender, wingless, scaberulous; anthers 3, 0.3–0.6 mm long.Caryopsis 1–1.2 mm long, oblong, turgid, white or reddish-brown, usually retained on the mature panicle.
Type location:
Derivation of specific name:
Habitat: Dry grassland on sandy loams; also in disturbed ground at roadsides and along railway lines
Altitude range: Up to 1530 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native to Ethiopia where it is a staple cereal crop; it has been introduced experimentally to other tropical countries, either for its grain or for hay, and is often found as an escape. Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,C,S
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Lk,S
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species: Mentaxya ignicollis (Larval foodplant)
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species

Cope, T.A. (1999). Poaceae Flora Zambesiaca 10(2) Pages 106 - 107.

Jackson, G. & Wiehe, P.O. (1958). An Annotated Check List of Nyasaland Grasses The Government Printer, Zomba, Nyasaland Page 67. As Eragrostis abyssinica

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 104.

Poilecot, P. (2007). Eragrostis species of Zimbabwe Éditions Quae,Versailles, France Pages 122 - 123. (Includes a picture).

Setshogo, M.P. (2005). Preliminary checklist of the plants of Botswana. Sabonet Report no. 37. Sabonet, Pretoria and Gaborone Page 137.

Other sources of information about Eragrostis tef:

Our websites:

Flora of Botswana: Eragrostis tef
Flora of Malawi: Eragrostis tef
Flora of Mozambique: Eragrostis tef
Flora of Zimbabwe: Eragrostis tef

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Eragrostis tef
African Plant Database: Eragrostis tef
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Eragrostis tef
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Eragrostis tef
ePIC (electronic Plant Information Center): Eragrostis tef
Flora Zambesiaca web site: Eragrostis tef
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Eragrostis tef
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
GRIN (Germplasm Resources Information Network): Eragrostis tef
iNaturalist: Eragrostis tef
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Eragrostis tef
JSTOR Plant Science: Eragrostis tef
Kew Herbarium catalogue: Eragrostis tef
Kew Monocotyledon checklist: Eragrostis tef
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Eragrostis tef
Plants of the World Online: Eragrostis tef
Tropicos: Eragrostis tef
Wikipedia: Eragrostis tef

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-23

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2023). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Eragrostis tef., retrieved 23 March 2023

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