Setaria palmifolia

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Setaria palmifolia
Starr 020803-0065 Setaria palmifolia.jpg
Scientific classification
S. palmifolia
Binomial name
Setaria palmifolia
  • Agrostis plicata Lour.
  • Chaetochloa effusa (E.Fourn.) Hitchc.
  • Chaetochloa palmifolia (J.Koenig) Hitchc. & Chase
  • Chaetochloa sulcata (Aubl.) Hitchc.
  • Chamaeraphis effusa (E.Fourn.) Kuntze
  • Chamaeraphis nepalensis (Spreng.) Kuntze
  • Chamaeraphis neurodes (F.W.Schultz) Kuntze
  • Chamaeraphis palmifolia (K.D.Koenig) Kuntze
  • Chamaeraphis paniculifera (Steud.) Kuntze
  • Chamaeraphis sulcata (Aubl.) Kuntze
  • Panicum amplissimum Steud.
  • Panicum kleinianum Nees ex Andersson nom. inval.
  • Panicum lene Steud.
  • Panicum mexicanum Scribn. & Merr.
  • Panicum nepalense Spreng.
  • Panicum nervosum Roxb. nom. illeg.
  • Panicum neurodes Schult.
  • Panicum palmatum R.Schleich.
  • Panicum palmifolia J.Koenig [Spelling variant]
  • Panicum palmifolium J.Koenig
  • Panicum paniculiferum Steud.
  • Panicum plicatum Roxb. nom. illeg.
  • Panicum plicatum Willd. nom. illeg.
  • Panicum sulcatum Aubl.
  • Setaria effusa E.Fourn.
  • Setaria lenis (Steud.) Miq.
  • Setaria paniculifera (Steud.) E. Fourn. ex Hemsl.
  • Setaria paniculifera (Steud.) E.Fourn.
  • Setaria sulcata (Aubl.) Desv. nom. illeg.

Setaria palmifolia is a species of grass known by the common names palmgrass,[2] highland pitpit, hailans pitpit, short pitpit, broadleaved bristlegrass, and knotroot. In Spanish it is called pasto de palma and in Samoan vao 'ofe 'ofe.[3] It is native to temperate and tropical Asia.[4] It is known elsewhere as an introduced, and often invasive, species, including in Australia, New Zealand, many Pacific Islands,[3] and the Americas.[4]


This species is a perennial grass with stems growing up to two[5] or three[6] meters long from a knotty rhizome. The stems can be up to a centimeter thick. The leaf sheaths are sparsely[5] to totally hairy.[6] The leaf blades are linear, oval,[6] or lance-shaped and up to 60[5] to 80[6] centimeters long by 7 or 8 centimeters wide. They have a pleated texture and are hairless or with some rough hairs. The panicle is loose, open and spreading, reaching up to 80 centimeters long. The spikelet is a few millimeters long but is often accompanied by a bristle which can be 1.5 centimeters long.[5]


The grass is cultivated as an ornamental plant for its palm-like pleated leaves. Some cultivars have striped leaves and 'Rubra' has purple midribs.[7]

It is grown as a vegetable crop in Papua New Guinea.[8] The grain can be eaten as a rice substitute.[9]

A folk belief in Taiwan holds that the number of latitudinal creases on the leaf predicts the number of typhoons that will hit the area in the coming or current typhoon season. It is known locally as typhoon grass.


The grass has been introduced to many areas, often as an ornamental. It is widespread in the Pacific Islands. It has become an invasive plant on Lord Howe Island, Norfolk Island, Rapa Nui, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands, and in Samoa and Hawaii. It is also invasive in New Zealand and Queensland.[3]

The grass is robust and spreads via rhizome and seed banks, forming monotypic stands. It is a tall plant with wide leaves that shade out other vegetation.[3] The rampant feral pigs of Hawaii facilitate its spread there by uprooting the surrounding plants while feeding on its thick stems. It is also spread by seed-eating birds.[10]

This species is host to the fungi Cercospora setariae and Phacellium paspali.[11]


  1. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Setaria palmifolia". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Setaria palmifolia. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). USDA Forest Service.
  4. ^ a b "Setaria palmifolia". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Setaria palmifolia. Flora of China.
  6. ^ a b c d Setaria palmifolia. GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  7. ^ A Floridata Plant Profile: Setaria palmifolia. FloriData.
  8. ^ Rose, C. J. (1980). Optimum replanting stage for two varieties of pit-pit (Setaria palmifolia) in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea Agricultural Journal 31(1-4), 23-29.
  9. ^ Setaria palmifolia. Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Grass Manual. Flora of North America.
  10. ^ Setaria palmifolia. Pest Plants of Hawaiian Native Ecosystems. Department of Botany, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  11. ^ Kirschner, R., et al. (2004). Some cercosporoid hyphomycetes from Taiwan, including a new species of Stenella and new reports of Distocercospora pachyderma and Phacellium paspali. Fungal Diversity 17, 57-68.