Scientific Name: Setaria palmifolia
Synonyms: Panicum palmifolium, P. palmaefolium
Common Names: Palmgrass, Palm Grass, Broadleaved Bristlegrass, Hailans Pitpit, Short Pitpit, Highland Pitpit
Growth Habit: Graminoid
Hawaii Native Status: Introduced. This naturalized ornamental grass and food plant is native to Asia.
Flower Color: Inconspicuous
Height: 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m) tall
Description: The single-bristled flower spikelets are in lax, flexible, open panicles on tall, slender stalks. The flowers are followed by small, light brown caryopses (grains). The leaves resemble those of seedling palms and have stiffly haired sheaths and large, green, plicate (pleated), fusiform (wide in the middle and tapering at both ends) leaf blades. The culms (grass stems) are erect and they emerge from a short rhizome.
Here in Hawaii, Palmgrass is a weed in wet and mesic (moderately wet) forested areas from low to middle elevations.
Edible – The young, unopened, sheath-enclosed flower shoots are edible, but they are much better in the cultivated "Pitpit" varieties of this plant, which are grown for food. The cereal grain is also edible, but it is small.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Family: Poaceae – Grass family
Genus: Setaria P. Beauv. – bristlegrass
Species: Setaria palmifolia (J. Koenig) Stapf – palmgrass
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