Dinochloa malayana

Dinochloa malayana S. Dransf.
  • Misapplied name: Dinochloa scandens.
  • Thai names: ไผ่คลาน (phai khlan) (Peninsular); Ref.: dnp.go.th/botany. — ไผ่ดำเลื้อย (phai dam lueai); ไผ่เลื้อย (phai lueai); "dam" translated: black, dark; "lueai": wiggle, ramble, crawl, slither, creep, wind; "khlan": crawl, clamber.
  • Distribution: Peninsular THAILAND: From Chumphon to Narathiwat), in moist evergreen forest and secondary forest up to 1,400 m altitude, also in disturbed and secondary forest; Peninsular MALAYSIA, in lowland forest.
  • Culm size: Height up to 20 m and more, diameter 1–2.5 cm.
  • Description: "… Rhizomes short; pachymorph. Culms zigzag; 7–10 mm diam.; woody. Culm-internodes terete; thick-walled, or solid; 10–20 cm long; antrorsely scabrous; distally hispid. Lateral branches dendroid. Branch complement several; with 1 branch dominant; as thick as stem. Culm-sheaths 7–9 cm long; purple; antrorsely scabrous; hispid; without auricles. Culm-sheath ligule entire. Culm-sheath blade lanceolate; erect, or reflexed; 2–5 cm long; 5 mm wide; pubescent; attenuate. Leaf-sheaths glabrous on surface. Leaf-sheath oral hairs ciliate. Leaf-sheath auricles absent. Ligule an eciliate membrane. Leaf-blade base with a brief petiole-like connection to sheath. Leaf-blades lanceolate; 6–20 cm long; 15–50 mm wide. Leaf-blade surface smooth; glabrous. Leaf-blade apex acuminate. … [flowers and seeds described]." — Kew GrassBase.
  • Uses: Shoots edible.

      cl. Chiang Mai, BS-0183

Dinochloa malayana (BS-0183): Branches and foliage leaves


  • Thai names: Not recorded.
  • Local distribution: Plants were offered for sale at Kham Thiang Market for only a few weeks in 2004, then this species has never been found offered again. Several plants, undoubtedly the same species, were found growing up pillars 2 or more storeys high of a house near the western moat of the old Chiang Mai city in the same year and thereafter. The plants were removed later, but a single remainder still existed there in August 2009. It is not clear, where these plants from Chiang Mai came from; there is no evidence that they were originally collected from the wild somewhere in the Chiang Mai Province.
  • Culm size: Height over 15 m, diameter 1.0–2.5 cm.
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  • Specimens: BS-0183 [C8] [S2] (living plants), Chiang Mai, Kham Thiang Market, cultivated, obtained 2004. BS-0183-1 [-] (living plants, all distributed) propagated from cuttings of BS-0183. BS-0066 [BBG] (living plants), Taiwan, from cultivated stock, received 22 Mar. 2012. BS-0304 [W4] (living plant), Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cult. as "Dinochloa sp.", coll. by C.S., received Sep. 2009.
  • Characters:
    (1) Habit of irregular shape, tight to loosely open clump. Rhizomes pachymorph. Culms usually erect below, not straight, often bending and zig-zag, not self-supporting, twining (both, clockwise and anti-clockwise), length over 15 m, may scramble over the ground if loosing a supporting tree. Young shoots in varying tones of green, dark green, and purplish, sparsely covered with rough pale hairs. Culm-internodes terete, purplish when young, dull dark green when mature, brownish green when old, scabrous (initially antrorsely scabrous), 21–34 cm long, diameter 2.0 cm at basal part and 2.5 cm at 2 meters height, solid or nearly so on basal and lower culm, with small cavity on mid-culm. Culm-nodes with a tall (1–2 cm) swelling dark brown corky girdle, scabrous, irregularly wrinkled, basally protruding; without thorns; without or with a few rudimentary aerial roots on lower culm nodes; nodes of horizontally scrambling culms over the ground may root easily, develop rhizomes and new culm shoots. Branches (developing from a single bud) several or many, small, or one thick branch may develop and continues twining as the main culm; branches usually on lower part of culms not present, buds remain dormant; branching intravaginal. Culm-leaves loosen from the sides, remain attached at the middle part of sheath base, then dropping. Culm-leaf sheaths about 6–7 cm wide at base, 8–10 cm long, dark brownish when dry, rigid, glabrous, though initially scattered with rigid dark hairs which fell off at an early stage, a few hairs may remain attached at the basal part of sheath; margins smooth, ecilate; apex rounded. Culm-leaf auricles none. Culm-leaf ligule inconspicuous, 0.5 mm high or shorter, entire, eciliate. Culm-leaf blade early caducous, papery, lanceolate, strongly reflexed, dark brownish when dry, about half as long as sheath, 5–6 cm long, about 1 cm wide at base, junction with sheath about 3–4 mm wide; base rounded; apex long pointed; sheath of lower part of culm lacking blade (may be initially present and small, and fell off at a rather early stage). Foliage-leaves 6–10 per branchlet. Foliage-leaf sheaths green when young, straw-colored when dry, scattered with very short and slightly rough white fuzz. Foliage-leaf auricles none, without bristles. Foliage-leaf ligule very short, entire. Foliage-leaf blades dark green on both surfaces, glabrous and shiny on both surfaces, usually (4.5–) 7 (–10) × (2–) 2.5 (–3) cm, considerably larger in young plants; margins antrorsely scabrous; apex acuminate; midrib slightly prominent beneath, no cross veins; petiole short, 1 mm.
    (2) Mid-culm internode Ø = 0.8–0.9 cm, cavity Ø = 1.0–1.5 mm.
  • Uses: Plants suitable as a garden ornamental twining on tall trees.

  • Dinochloa malayana (BS-0183):
    Lower culm (center) remains unbranched


  • Cultivation requirements: Culms may grow taller than 10 meters under favorable conditions. Plants thrive well in shade or deep shade; young foliage leaves might get burned if exposed to the sun. Heavy soil containing much moisture is demanded.
  • Comments:
    (1) Characters of BS-0183 match largely with Dinochloa malayana. The description in Kew GrassBase states ciliate oral hairs in leaf-sheaths. However, in BS-0183 and all other specimens cited herein, neither auricles nor bristles could be detected (lens used).
    (2) Apart from the species' wild occurrence in southern Thailand, there is reason for the assumption that plants of this species were introduced into Chiang Mai from Europe, where one species is kept in cultivation under the misapplied name Dinochloa scandens. During the 1980s or 1990s, this Dinochloa species was first introduced into Europe by Claude Rifat (1952–2002) under the name "Dinochloa scandens", said having been collected by him on Palawan, Philippines (from the wild, or from cultivated plants is not known; there is no record of wild occurrence of D. malayana from Palawan). Plants were propagated and cultivated indoor in Europe, and soon introduced from Europe into the USA. It was then published that Dinochloa malayana could be the correct name for this species grown in cultivation in Europe and the USA. Soon after Rifat's introduction of his Dinochloa plant to Europe, he introduced the same Dinochloa species to Chiang Mai during his visit of Thailand, and said that he also introduced it to Taiwan and Japan.
    (3) On 22 March 2012, I received two plants from Taiwan (BS-0066) under the misapplied name "Schizo­stachyum diffusum", which clearly showed not to be a Schizostachyum species but a Dinochloa species, and soon turned out to represent exactly the same species as BS-0183. This may be a plant propagated from C. Rifat's introduction of his "Dinochloa scandens" into Taiwan.
    (4) The plant received from Malaysia (BS-0304) has grown by 2017 big enough to check and compare characters. It turned out to be exactly the same species as BS-0183.
    (5) A main distinction in vegetative characters between Dinochloa malayana and Indonesian Dinochloa scandens (Kew GrassBase) may be the following: In D. malayana, culm leaves of young shoots are purplish, young culms are purplish then fading to dark green, internodes are scabrous. For D. scandens, there are no records of purplish color in any young parts of the plant, and internodes are nearly smooth and distally pubescent. Several photos, asserting to display Dinochloa scandens, were published by Mastok Setyanto on facebook, 9 May 2017. The photos show a bluish young shoot, apparently farinose, and hairy internodes.