Shrubs of Morni: Kans grass

Kans grass/ Kash phool (Saccharum spontaneum) is a deep-rooted, coarse and erect  perennial grass of South Asia that colonizes the monsoon flood plains of the Terai-Bhabar belt (in the foothills of the Shivalik hills) after the rains and forms thick pure stands in the area. It grows to a height of about 3 metres and blooms during autumn. It is extensively used for thatching roofs and building garden fences.

The grass was once considered a weed that infested millions of acres of cultivable land in Central India. India took a loan of 7 million dollars from World Bank in 1949 to buy 200 heavy-duty tractors for removing the grass by deep-ploughing the affected areas to remove the roots and rhizomes.

The flower of the kans grass is conspicuous fluffy white and from a distance a landscape with kans grassfields can appear to have been draped in white. The pannicles are white,  upright, 6″ to 12″ long with twisted slender branches and are covered with copious white silky hair.

Kans grass fields near Burj-Kotian, Morni foothills
Kans grass fields near Burj-Kotian, Morni foothills
Kans grass, Jallah road, Morni foothills (August)
Kans grass, Jallah road, Morni foothills (August)
Kans grass flower
Kans grass flower, Aasrewali, Morni hills

Large stands of the kans grass can be spotted in the Morni foothills along the seasonal nadis and choes. The deep roots of the grass play a role in stabilizing the stream banks and saving them from erosion.

Kans grass field, Aasrewali, Morni hills
Kans grass field, Aasrewali, Morni hills

The roots and leaves are used indifferent  formulations of traditional medicines as diuretics, anti-pyretics,  to treat sexual problems, mental illness etc

Literary reference:

R. C. Temple while translating the bardic accounts of the battles of the Chandel Rajput King Parmal of Mahoba with the legendary Prithvi Raj Chauhan in the ‘Legends of Punjab’  recounts an episode where Prithvi Raj sets up camp near Saresma fort in Sambhalpur, Muradabad with an army of 100,000 to wage war against Malkhan, a Chandel Rajput chief of Mahoba. Malkhan’s wife Gajmodhni while surveying the landscape from the palace roof, spots the enemy tents and mistakes them for the fleecy white clouds of the kans flower :
‘ The Rani stood on the palace (roof) and gazed around her;
She stood like a partridge (‘chakor’) gazing at the moon,
(And said): “Has a washerman brought his clothes to the forest!
Or is the kans grass flowering?”
It is an illusion (made) of God!


  1. The Rotarian Jan 1955
  2. Legends of Punjab (Volume 3), R.C. Temple (1900)

3 thoughts on “Shrubs of Morni: Kans grass”

  1. During Agril. Engg. degree course in PAU , Ludhiana it was known that before the period of more than hundred years there was no sugarcane crop in north India . It was growing in south called Ponda / Ganna (sacchrum offcianrum ).In north there was only kans , the family of both is same . This kans was taken to Coimbtore . The special cross polination process i.e.female of kans and males of ponda in laboratory at special temperature was carried . Due to the reason sugarcane varities are named as CO 1048 etc.laer on polination was carried at Jullunder and varities named as COJ 1148 etc.

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