Review Paper

Themeda triandra: a keystone grass species

Published in: African Journal of Range & Forage Science
Volume 30, issue 3, 2013 , pages: 99–125
DOI: 10.2989/10220119.2013.831375
Author(s): Hennie A SnymanAnimal, Wildlife and Grassland Sciences, South Africa, Lachlan J IngramPlant Breeding Institute, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Australia, Kevin P KirkmanGrassland Science, South Africa


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.

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