Miscanthus sinensis

Miscanthus ( Miscanthus sinensis)

Miscanthus ( Miscanthus sinensis), also erroneously known under the name of elephant grass, a perennial plant is from the family of grasses ( Poaceae ). She comes from East Asia (China, Japan, Korea).


Miscanthus sinensis is characterized by a reed-like growth habit, forming dense clumps to loose and reaches heights between 80 and 200 (rarely 300 to 400 ) cm. The plants form of a horizontally -growing, short rhizome -faceted because root system can penetrate depending on the soil to a depth of 2.5 m.

The unbranched, fixed blades have a diameter of 3 to 10 millimeters, the nodes can be hairy or bald easily. The standing along alternate at the base of the stem and the stem leaves show the characteristic of C4 plants erect leaf position that allows maximum light absorption. The leaf sheath may be hairy or bald tomentose. The 18 to 75 centimeters long and 0.3 to 2 ( to 4) inches wide leaf blade is linear and flat, its approach it tapers or is broadly rounded and tapers to. The midrib protrudes, the edges are rough or smooth. The 0.5 to 4 millimeters long ligule is ciliated.

The inflorescence is a 20 to 36 (from 10) inches long, nearly bald to hairy tomentose panicle, the inflorescence axis is 6 to 16 inches long. The individual grapes ( the number of which in particular can vary significantly with varieties) are 10 to 40 ( 4-100 ) inches long and can reach a diameter of 10 to 30 ( from 8) inches that are bare and smooth to slightly rough internodes of the rachis, their nodes hairy. The lower flower stalks are 0.5 to 1.5 mm long, the upper 1.5 to 4 millimeters.

The person sitting on unequal length Ährchenstielen, paired spikelets matted hairy to glabrous awl -shaped and 4 to 6.5 millimeters long. They are dominated by the 5 to 8 millimeters long Kallushärchen equal to approximately shaped, membranous husks are five annoying, pointed, 4 to 6.5 mm long and back to hairy bald, the tips and the upper edge are hairy. The lower lemmas are lanceolate and translucent, 3.5 to 4 mm long, hairy at the tip and the margins, otherwise glabrous, the venation is missing. The upper lemmas resemble them, but only reach a length of 2.5 to 3.5 millimeters. The awns are 4 to 12 mm, the upper palea are 1 to 2 millimeters long shed leaves. The three anthers are about 2.5 millimeters long.

The elliptical caryopsis with a length of 2.2 mm, a thickness of 0.9 mm and a thousand grain weight of 300 to 950mg typical of wind spreading plants.

Distribution and habitat

Miscanthus is widespread in many parts of China, Japan and Korea on mountain slopes, coastal and disturbed habitats at altitudes below 2000 meters.

In the U.S. introduced as ornamental species have uncontrolled spread by seed and have therefore been classified as invasive, 20 years after its introduction. Especially in the areas of the temperate latitudes of the Atlantic coast, they could spread; fought, they are preferably with Roundup.


In the countries of origin about 40 species are known butterflies that visit the miscanthus as a host plant, most of them from genera of Hesperiidae and Nymphalidae.

Miscanthus has the so-called C4 metabolism, under certain environmental conditions, a particularly efficient form of photosynthesis; Therefore, the plant compared to the C3 plant, under certain climatic conditions is distinguished by a particularly high biomass performance.


Miscanthus sinensis was first described in 1855 by Nils Johan Andersson. The species is very variable, so it came to the description of many Untertaxa and today understood as synonymous species, important synonyms are Miscanthus conde satus (Japan) and Miscanthus transmorrisonensis (Taiwan).


In the areas of origin, the miscanthus was known as a raw material for mats and wickerwork for visibility and wind protection as well as a forage crop. Since the 1950s, it is cultivated in addition Miscanthus sacchariflorus in Europe as an ornamental plant. There are numerous varieties which find use in garden design.

Miscanthus sinensis ' Strictus ' bloom

Miscanthus sinensis ' Far East ', leaves

Miscanthus sinensis ' Far East ', flowering

Miscanthus sinensis ' Malepartus ' incipient flower

In 1935 a special strong growing variety, the giant miscanthus ( Miscanthus × giganteus), a hybrid of the miscanthus with Miscanthus sacchariflorus, from Japan to Denmark was introduced to Central Europe that can reach heights of growth of up to four meters in Europe and therefore grown since the late 1970s, increasingly as a renewable resource for energy and material use.