Review Paper

Themeda triandra: a keystone grass species

  • Hennie A Snyman
  • Lachlan J Ingram
  • Kevin P Kirkman


Themeda triandra is a perennial tussock grass endemic to Africa, Australia and Asia. Within these regions it is found across a broad range of climates, geological substrates and ecosystems. Because it is widespread across these areas it has great economic and ecological value, as it is a relatively palatable species across most of its range. It is of critical importance in supporting local populations of both native and introduced herbivores, and is thus central to wildlife and livestock production, and consequently rural livelihoods. It is an important climax or subclimax species that is well adapted to fire, a common element of many areas where it is found. Inappropriate grazing management, however, can result in a decline of Themeda, as it is not well adapted to an uninterrupted, selective grazing regime. A decline in abundance of Themeda in a grassland is usually coupled to a decline in grazing value, species richness, cover and ecosystem function. In spite of its significant ecological and economic importance, there has been no attempt to review and synthesise the considerable body of research undertaken on this grass. Our aim is to summarise and synthesis work previously undertaken and identify areas where further research is required.

Keywords: ecophysiology, grassland, grazing, red grass, roots, seed demography, semi-arid

African Journal of Range & Forage Science 2013, 30(3): 99–125

Author Biographies

Hennie A Snyman
Animal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, University of the Free State, PO Box 339, Bloemfontein 9300, South Africa
Lachlan J Ingram
Plant Breeding Institute, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, University of Sydney, 107 Cobbitty Road, Cobbitty, NSW 2570, Australia
Kevin P Kirkman
Grassland Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville 3209, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9380
print ISSN: 1022-0119