Indigenous Name: TARLAC GRASS
Spanish Name: Hierba Tarlaquena
Scientific Name: Themeda arundinacea (Roxb.) Ridl.
Kapampangan Name: Dikut Tarlac
Aboriginal Name: Tallak
Ilocano Name: Tanglar; Tarlar
Popular Name: Matarlac; Malatarlac
Location Discovered: Bamban, Tarlac
Date Found: November 21, 2002
Other Places Located: Capas, Tarlac City, San Jose, Mayantoc, Camiling, Santa Ignacia, Camiling, San Clemente
Researcher: Dr. Rodrigo M. Sicat
Asst. Researchers: Rodel T. Botio/Delfin J. Sibal
STRUCTURE OF THE PLANT
Stem. Selectively grows in colonies in usually moist to dry clay loam soils along high hills and flat hinterlands; annual (“annual” means once a year); as the plants burn or die during dry season (as a result of kaingin or eventual death), new shoots are enormously replaced at the onset of the rainy season. The grass shoots (plant or clone) grow from the center outward, develop new lateral shoots (tillers), and form into a ring of healthy plants. A ring produces 100-150 tillers. A young tiller is light green and becomes heavily green as its maturity stage progress. Each tiller has 8-10 pairs of sideward stems from base to apex. The sheaths of the stems are hallow or herbaceous and are sequentially woven and arranged in ascending order. The lower side sheaths of the base stems are light purple, hairy, shiny, smooth, and with parallel veins. Any of these tillers produces a sugarcane-like culm, which holds the spike. The cane-like stalk reaches 8-13 ft. tall (root base stem to spike’s apex). A grass colony bears 30-35 spikes. A spike has 12-18 nodes (joints), and every node is 0.75 cm.-4.0 cm. diameter. Internodes are 15 cm.-35 cm. apart. Fresh (green) nodes are succulent, sugarcane (sucrose aroma), and chewable. Old stalks become hard and woody.
Leaves. The blade (lamina) of the grass is linear, long, slender, sharp, and coarse. The sheath that enfolds the culms of the nodes is membrous or hairy. Each leaf has a long midrib that holds both the blade and sheath. The veins are parallel. The leaves reach a height of 170 cm.-225 cm. (from base to tip). Each mature plantlet produces 16-40 sheaths of leaves. A leaf measures 1.5 cm. (base), 1.6 cm. (middle), and 0.3 cm. (tip).
During the plant’s peak of maturity, the leaves form a circular crown that makes the grass appear buoyant, showy, and majestic.
Roots. The tarlac grass is fibrous. Each tiller develops an independent fibrous root system, which makes the grass colony stand firm and flexible. Roots can penetrate porous clay loam soils and develop roots as long as 30 cm.-50 cm.
The young seeds of the grass develop primary or seminal roots.
Fruiting structures. The inflorescence of the grass is developed on the spike of the plant. The spike (from base stalk to tip) measures 8-13 feet. The spike contains spikelets that bear the florets (flowers). Each spike has 5-7 spikelets, which attach the flowers to the stem. The young flowers are light yellow green, smooth, and shiny. Eventually, the flowers become maple to deep brown when fully matured. The seeds are not macroscopic. Seed dispersal is either done through the wind, birds, insects, and man. Flowering period commences August and subsides in December.
When all the spikes of a solitary tarlac grass colony are in full bloom, the plant appears attractive and welcoming. From a distance, the grass florescence’s is noticeably peculiar and smart.
Uses. The leaves of the grass may be used as roofing materials in rustic places; flowers and spikes for handicrafts; and the roots are reportedly used for herbal or medicinal purposes (kidney treatment). Only very young stems and leaves of the grass are used for forage purposes (for cows and goats).