About 15. See text.
Miscanthus is a genus of about 15 species of perennial grasses native to subtropical and tropical regions of Africa and southern Asia, with one species (M. sinensis) extending north into temperate eastern Asia.
- Selected species
- Miscanthus floridulus
- Miscanthus giganteus
- Miscanthus sacchariflorus (Amur silver-grass)
- Miscanthus sinensis
- Miscanthus tinctorius
- Miscanthus transmorrisonensis
The sterile hybrid between M. sinensis and M. sacchariflorus, Miscanthus giganteus, has been trialed as a biofuel in Europe since the early 1980s. It can grow to heights of more than 3.5 m in one growth season. Its dry weight annual yield can reach 25 tonnes per hectare (10 tonnes per acre). It is sometimes called "elephant grass", so is thus confused with the African grass Pennisetum purpureum, also called that.
The rapid growth, low mineral content, and high biomass yield of Miscanthus make it a favorite choice as a biofuel. Miscanthus can be used as input for ethanol production, often outperforming corn and other alternatives in terms of biomass and gallons of ethanol produced. Additionally, after harvest, it can be burned to produce heat and steam for power turbines. In addition to the amount of CO2 emissions from burning the crop, any fossil fuels that might have been used in planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and processing the crop, as well as in transporting the biofuel to the point of use, must also be considered when evaluating its carbon load. Its advantage, though, is that it is not usually consumed by humans, making it a more available crop for ethanol and biofuel, than, say, corn and sugarcane. When mixed 50%-50% with coal, Miscanthus biomass can be used in some current coal-burning power plants without modifications.
M. sinensis is cultivated as an ornamental plant. In Japan, where it is known as susuki (すすき), it is considered an iconic plant of late summer and early autumn. It is mentioned in Man'yōshū (VIII:1538) as one of the seven autumn flowers (aki no nana kusa, 秋の七草). It is used for the eighth month in hanafuda playing cards. It is decorated with bush clover for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Miscanthus has also excellent fiber properties for papermaking.
- "Miscanthus information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- National Non-Food Crops Centre. "NNFCC Crop Factsheet: Miscanthus". Retrieved on 2011-02-17.
- Scurlock, J. M. O. (February 1999). Miscanthus: a review of European experience with a novel energy crop. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy. Retrieved 2009-06-01.
- UK's National Centre for Biorenewable Energy, Fuels and Materials
- Miscanthus x giganteus - as an energy crop - Miscanthus Research at the University of Illinois
-  - New Energy Farms - Miscanthus developers and suppliers