Heteropogon contortus

COMMON NAME

Pili Grass, Spear grass; Tanglehead; Twisted beardgrass

TYPE

Bamboo

FAMILY

Poaceae

NOTES

Forms bunches or tufts of light blueish-green leaf blades which range in height from two to three ft. tall. Their flowers, although insignificant in appearance, form spikelets at the top of the plant and often become tangled amongst each other. This dense cluster of seeds is most likely how the plant received its name since the word pili means to stick or cling to. The plants develop characteristic dark seeds with a single long awn at one end and a sharp spike at the other. The awn (stiff bristle) becomes twisted when dry and straightens when moistened, and in combination with the spike is capable of drilling the seed into the soil.  Pili was used in the past primarily for thatching houses and can still be used today for that purpose. It was also placed on hula altars for Laka in hopes that newly gained knowledge would pili, or stick in their minds.

GEOGRAPHIC REGION

Southern Africa, southern Asia, Northern Australia, Oceania, and southwestern North America

NATIVE HABITAT

Dry grasslands

WEB SOURCES

wikipedia.org

hawaiiannativeplants.com

nativeplants.hawaii.edu



Heteropogon contortus​