Aeluropus (Aeluropus lagopoides)

Aeluropus lagopoides
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Aeluropus fact file

Aeluropus description

GenusAeluropus (1)

Aeluropus lagopoides is a creeping perennial grass with grey-green, lance-shaped leaves, which grow along the stem in two opposite rows (2) (3) (4). The rigid leaves are folded lengthways (2) (4), with hairs covering the surface (4). Aeluropus lagopoides has widely-spreading rhizomes which enable the plant to form thick mats (3) (4), and it produces dense, spherical inflorescences consisting of small clusters of ‘spikelets’ at the head of the stem (2) (3) (4)

Stem length: 5 - 30 cm (2) (3)
Leaf length: 0.5 - 4 cm (3) (4)
Leaf width: 0.2 - 0.4 cm (3) (4)
Inflorescence length: 2 cm (4)

Aeluropus biology

Aeluropus lagopoides has many adaptations that enable itto exist in high-salinity habitats that are uninhabitable to many other plant species. The plant itself has a very low salt content (7), and it is able to expel the salt it gains from the highly saline soil through glands on the leaves (4) (6) (7). The small waxy leaves and strong root network also help this species to survive in stressful salty environments (6), especially throughout the summer months when there is a three-fold increase in soil salinity (7) (8).

A perennial species, Aeluropus lagopoides produces flowers throughout the year (4). It propagates vegetatively by underground roots called ‘rhizomes’ after monsoon rains, which produce roots and shoots identical to the parent plant (6) (7). Sexual reproduction also occurs in Aeluropus lagopoides, with numerous seeds and flowers produced between April and October (7) (8)


Aeluropus range

Aeluropus lagopoides has a large range, which spans southeast Europe, North Africa from Morocco to Somalia, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, and central Asia, including India and Pakistan (3) (5)


Aeluropus habitat

Aeluropus lagopoides inhabits damp, saline soil (2) (4) on the fringes of salt-marshes and sulphurous springs, as well as on waste land and areas previously used for cultivation (5). In these areas it is usually the dominant plant species (2) (6)


Aeluropus status

Aeluropus lagopoides has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


Aeluropus threats

Threats to Aeluropus lagopoides include being grazed by livestock during times of low food availability (2) (4). However, little else is known about other potential threats to this species. It is considered to be locally common in the United Arab Emirates (4).


Aeluropus conservation

There are not known to be any specific conservation measures currently in place for Aeluropus lagopoides


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Asexual reproduction
Reproduction that does not involve the formation of sex cells (‘gametes’). In many species, asexual reproduction can occur by existing cells splitting into two, or part of the organism breaking away and developing into a separate individual. Some animals, including vertebrates, can also develop from unfertilised eggs; this process, known as parthenogenesis, gives rise to offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.
An organ that makes and secretes substances used by the body.
The reproductive shoot of a plant, which bears a group or cluster of flowers.
A plant that normally lives for more than two years. After an initial period, the plant usually produces flowers once a year.
An underground, horizontal plant stem that produces roots and shoots.
Vegetative propagation
Type of asexual reproduction (reproduction that does not involve the formation of sex cells) in which a new plant grows from part of another plant, rather than from seeds or spores. The resulting individual is genetically identical to the original plant.


  1.  UNEP-WCMC (January, 2012)
  2. Mahmoud, T. (2010) Desert Plants of Egypt’s Wadi El Gemal National Park. The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo, Egypt.
  3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: GrassBase - Aeluropus lagopoides (January, 2012)
  4. Jongbloed, M. (2003) The Comprehensive Guide to the Wildflowers of the United Arab Emirates. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, Abu Dhabi.
  5. Flora of Pakistan - Aeluropus lagopoides (January, 2012)
  6. Ahmed, M.Z., Gilani, S.A., Kikuchi, A., Gulzar, S., Khan, M.A. and Watanabe, K.N. (2011) Population diversity of Aeluropus lagopoides: a potential cash crop for saline land. PakistanJournal of Botany, 43: 595-605.
  7. Gulzar, S. and Khan, M.A. (2001) Seed germination of a halophytic grass Aeluropus lagopoides. Annals of Biology, 87: 319-324.
  8. Mohsenzadeh, S., Malboobi, M.A., Razavi, K. and Farrahi-Aschtiani, S. (2006) Physiological and molecular responses of Aeluropus lagopoides (Poaceae) to water deficit. Environmental and Experimental Botany, 56: 314-322.

Image credit

Aeluropus lagopoides  
Aeluropus lagopoides

© Salem Al Shekaili

Salem Al Shekaili
Abu Dhabi,
United Arab Emirates


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