views updated May 29 2018

Spinifex (family Gramineae) A genus of coastal grasses that are dioecious. The spikelets are sessile, break into small pieces when ripe, and are distributed by the wind. The male spikelets are 2-flowered and arranged in spikes composed of a cluster of 4–6, with long bracts. The female spikelets are very numerous and held in a large, dense head, each with a spine-like rachis which is longer than the spikelet and the bract. The plants are perennial, with thick rhizomes and stolon which can spread several metres over the sand. The plant is rough or hairy, with silvery leaves, and a ligule of hairs. The genus is used to stabilize coastal sand-dunes. There are 3 species, found in east and south-eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific region.


views updated Jun 11 2018

spinifex coarse grass of the Australian deserts, having spiny leaves XIX. — modL. spīnifex, f. spīna SPINE + -fex maker, f. base of facere make