Loefl. ex L.
The only known species is Lygeum spartum, commonly called esparto grass, cord grass or albardine, which is distributed in arid areas around the Mediterranean Sea. It is similar to Stipa tenacissima and both species are used to produce a fiber product known as esparto or esparto grass.
Lygeum spartum is a rhizomatous hermaphroditic, perennial grass growing up to 75 centimetres (30 in) tall. The rhizome and the base of the stem are scaly. The leaves are threadlike but stiff and tough, measuring up to 50 centimetres (20 in) long. The inflorescence is made up of a few long-haired spikelets each up to 4.5 centimetres (1 3⁄4 in) long. They are wrapped in a lance-shaped bract called a spatheole. This sheath is 3 to 9 centimetres (1 1⁄6 to 3 7⁄12 in) long and can have a sharp point.
Lygeum spartinum is native to southern Europe and North Africa, where its distribution includes Crete, Italy, Spain, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia. It may have been introduced to Kashmir.
Lygeum spartum fibres have high tensile strength and flexibility, and is used for making ropes, sandals, baskets, mats and other durable articles. They have also used in the manufacture of high quality paper. It can also be used locally as a fodder for livestock and to stabilise sand dunes and rehabilitate salt soils, due to its tolerance of saline conditions.
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