It is a perennial rhizomatous grass native to southeast Asia (Japan
and China south to the Philippines and New Guinea). It grows from
0.6-3 m (2-10 feet) tall. The leaves are about 2 cm wide near the
base of the plant and narrow to a sharp point at the top; the
margins are finely toothed and are embedded with sharp silica
crystals. The main vein is a lighter colour than the rest of the
leaf and tends to be nearer to one side of the leaf. The upper
surface is hairy near the base of the plant while the underside is
usually hairless. Roots are up to 1.2meters deep, but 0.4 m is
typical in sandy soil.
Cultivation and uses
It is used for thatching the roofs of traditional homes .
It is planted extensively for ground cover and soil stabilization
near beach areas and other areas subject to erosion. Other uses
include paper-making, thatching and weaving into mats and bags.
However, its most common usefulness may be seen in its medicinal
properties which include astringent, febrifuge, diuretic, tonic and
Young inflorescences and shoots may be eaten cooked, and the roots
contain starch and sugars and are therefore easy to chew.