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Desmostachya bipinnata

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Desmostachya bipinnata
Desmostachya bipinnata (right plant)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Desmostachya
D. bipinnata
Binomial name
Desmostachya bipinnata
  • Briza bipinnata L.
  • Cynosurus durus Forssk.
  • Dactylis interrupta Rottler ex Stapf
  • Desmostachya cynosuroides (Retz.) Stapf ex Massey
  • Desmostachya pingalaiae Raole & R.J.Desai
  • Dinebra dura Lag.
  • Eragrostis bipinnata (L.) K.Schum.
  • Eragrostis cynosuroides (Retz.) P.Beauv.
  • Eragrostis thunbergii Baill.
  • Leptochloa bipinnata (L.) Hochst.
  • Megastachya bipinnata (L.) P.Beauv.
  • Poa cynosuroides Retz.
  • Pogonarthria bipinnata (L.) Chiov.
  • Rabdochloa bipinnata (L.) Kuntze
  • Stapfiola bipinnata (L.) Kuntze
  • Uniola bipinnata (L.) L.

Desmostachya bipinnata, commonly known as halfa grass, big cordgrass, and salt reed-grass,[3] is an Old World perennial grass, long known and used in human history. The grass is tall, tufted, leafy, perennial grass, branching from the base, erect from a stout creeping rootstock.[4]



Desmostachya bipinnata is native to northeast and west tropical, and northern Africa (in Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mauritania, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia); and countries in the Middle East, and temperate and tropical Asia (in Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand).[5]

In agriculture, Desmostachya bipinnata is a weed commonly found in wheat crops.[6]



On the basis of distinct morphological and reproductive characters, four new subspecies of D. bipinnata have been described by Pandeya and Pandeya (2002). However, it is uncertain whether these subspecies represent actual genetic differences, the authors also note the existence of different biotypes occurring in response to soil and climatic conditions in western India. The four subspecies proposed are:

  • D. bipinnata longispiculata;
  • D. bipinnata jodhpurensis;
  • D. bipinnata sheelai;
  • D. bipinnata agraensis.

Religious significance


Desmostachya bipinnata -- darbha (दर्भः) or kuśa (कुशः) in Sanskrit -- has long been used in various traditions (Hindus, Jains and Buddhists) as a very sacred plant. According to early Buddhist accounts, it was the material used by Buddha for his meditation seat when he attained enlightenment.[7] It is mentioned in the Rig Veda for use in sacred ceremonies and also as a seat for priests and the gods.[8] Kusha grass is specifically recommended by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita as part of the ideal seat for meditation.[9][10][11]

Other Uses


Rope made from this grass was found in the Khufu ship. As well as the usual uses for mooring etc, the rope had been used as part of the ship's construction and had held it together.[12]

In folk medicine, Desmostachya bipinnata has been used to treat dysentery and menorrhagia, and as a diuretic.[13]

In arid regions, Desmostachya bipinnata is used as fodder for livestock.[5]


  1. ^ Lansdown, R.V. (2013). "Desmostachya bipinnata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T13579796A13596921. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T13579796A13596921.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Desmostachya bipinnata". Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  3. ^ Martha Modzelevich. "Desmostachya bipinnata". Flowers in Israel. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  4. ^ Pandeya, Amita; Pandeya, S. C. (2002). "Environment and population differentiation in Desmostachya bipinnata (Linn.) Stapf in western India". Tropical Ecology. 43 (2): 359–362. CiteSeerX
  5. ^ a b "Desmostachya bipinnata". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Ahmad, R.; Shaikh, A.S. (January–June 2003). "Common Weeds of Wheat and Their Control" (PDF). Pakistan Journal of Water Resources. 7 (1): 73–76. Retrieved June 15, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Professor Paul Williams (2006). Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies (Critical Concepts in Religious Studies S.). New York: Routledge. p. 262. ISBN 0-415-33226-5.
  8. ^ Griffith, Ralph T. H. (1896). The Hymns of the Rigveda, Volume 1. Kessinger. p. 4. ISBN 9781428630772.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Establishing a firm seat for himself, In a clean place, Not too high, Not too low, covered with cloth, and antelope skin, and kusha grass" (B.G. VI:11)
  10. ^ Smith, Huston; Chapple, Christopher; Sargeant, Winthrop (2009). The Bhagavad Gita (Excelsior Editions). Excelsior Editions/State University of New York. p. 282. ISBN 978-1-4384-2842-0.
  11. ^ Mahdihassan, S. (1987). "Three Important Vedic Grasses" (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science. 22 (4): 286–291. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 14, 2012. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  12. ^ Jenkins, Nancy. "The boat beneath the pyramid" (PDF). Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  13. ^ James A. Duke. "Desmostachya bipinnata (POACEAE)". Green Farmacy Garden, Fulton, Maryland: Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. Retrieved June 15, 2011.[permanent dead link]