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Triffid Terror Visited on the ACT – Mexican Feather Grass

By poptop - 14 December 2008 14

Mexican Feather Grass

The Chief informs us that if we think we have it we need to let him know so his crack team of Ecowarriers can come and napalm it into submission (not really – they have to grub it out).

It is rather renowned for setting itself up and creating monocultures, choking out other plantforms and being generally inedible by everything else. It has already escaped into the wild in New Zealand and is invading quite nicely.

[ED – particularly impressive that the nurseries here managed to sell it.]

Alternative Name(s): White Tussock, Stipa tenuissima.

Family: Poaceae.

Form: Grass

Origin: Native from southern USA to Chile and Argentina.

Flowers/Seedhead: Seedhead: Young seedheads held among the leaves; mature seedhead to 25 cm long; glumes to 1 cm long; callus bearded. Flowers summer.

Description: Perennial grass forming dense tussocks to 0.8 m high. Leaf blades to 0.5 mm wide, tightly rolled and with small serrations that can be felt when fingers are moved downward along the blade.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by hairless nodes, some usually visible; ligule membranous and hairless, to 2.5 mm long; glumes purplish in the lower half; lemma to 3 mm long, with some hairs to 0.3 mm long at the top (at the base of the own); own narrow, straight or obscurely twice bent, 4.5–9 cm long; attached centrally to the top of the lemma.

Dispersal: Spread by seed and as an ornamental.

Confused With: Serrated tussock, Nassella trichotoma, which has shorter crowns 2–3.5 cm long that are attached off-centre at the top of the lemma.

Distinguished by long awns and lack of corona

Notes: Initially mislabelled and sold as an ornamental in Australia under the names Elegant Spear Grass, Pony Tail and Angel’s Hair. Mexican Feather Grass is not known to be naturalised in Australia to date. This grass is a weed in its native range and is considered to be of low palatability. If this species naturalises in Australia it potentially has a wider range than Serrated Tussock. Mexican Feather Grass escaped from cultivation in New Zealand and has become a weed that is continuing to spread.

What’s Your opinion?


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14 Responses to
Triffid Terror Visited on the ACT – Mexican Feather Grass
ant 11:20 pm 16 Dec 08

Mondo grass needs too much water to be a proper weed in country NSW. The trouble with these other crap grasses is they thrive in the dry.

poptop 8:04 pm 16 Dec 08

Weeds are just unwanted plants.

Mondo isn’t invasive, but that seems to be its major attraction, IMO.

miz 7:04 pm 16 Dec 08

Mondo ain’t a weed!

ant 11:36 pm 15 Dec 08

Yet another crap grass. That African Lovegrass they peppered the ACT with in decades gone by is a massive and growing problem. I’ve found some Serrated Tussock on my place and nuked it, but around Tarago today I saw whole paddocks of it. These grasses go “goody!” at conditions here and go mad, and wreak expensive havoc. The local council weeds bloke reckons you’ll see properties with For Sale signs on around Bredbo, and they are just 100% Serrated Tussock.

AG Canberra 9:14 am 15 Dec 08

The seeds of these plants were imported by a wholesale nursery in VIC. The seeds were mis-labelled and as this grass looks incredibly close to the type they expected to be buying they were none the wiser.

It took an eagle eyed DPI QLD officer (who coincidentally was on her way home from a Mexican restaurant) to spot the noxious weed in someone’s front garden.

Tracing has shown that the plants have been sold in many locations by a variety of nurseries and therefore the media alerts trying to get people to look out for it.

poptop 8:26 am 15 Dec 08

It does appear to have been an National problem not specific to the ACT, but given Canberrans’ track record with aforementioned Pampas and Mondo grasses I’ll just bet we bought acres of the stuff. Feathery, drought resistant and functionally unkillable.

Media suggests it was a US exporter’s labelling error that has caused the kerfuffle.

johnboy 1:11 am 15 Dec 08

The licit retailing of noxious weeds remains indicative of government asleep at the wheel.

poptop 9:08 pm 14 Dec 08

. . . and still do.

Nevertheless – Cotoneasters!

VYBerlinaV8_the_one_ 8:59 pm 14 Dec 08

Both of which looked crap…

poptop 8:45 pm 14 Dec 08

If he can’t undertand the successful retailing of this plant, the Editor appears to be both too young to recall the Great Pampas Grass Invasion of the 70s and too unhorticultural to have noticed the apparently insatiable demand for Mondo Grass of the 00s.

monomania 7:25 pm 14 Dec 08

huwr said :

Skidbladnir, it looks like a lot of things. It’s difficult to classify plants (especially grasses) without getting close enough that you can see the distinguishing features (as listed in the article).

Who knows their purple glumes from their hairless ligules? I’ll have the corona that doesn’t belong to that feathery grass

huwr 6:43 pm 14 Dec 08

Skidbladnir, it looks like a lot of things. It’s difficult to classify plants (especially grasses) without getting close enough that you can see the distinguishing features (as listed in the article).

Skidbladnir 5:33 pm 14 Dec 08

That looks suspiciously like the stuff a friend planted a yard full of when they tore out their old lawn…

For anyone who cares: ACT Legislation around this kind of thing: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2005-21/current/pdf/2005-21.pdf

Section 9-15 are about pest plant propagation & supply, and penalties surrounding them.

seekay 4:16 pm 14 Dec 08

I love the way so many councils and governments around the country have decided to landscape with “native grasses”. You can’t tell them from weeds and yet no-one dares to complain for fear of being called a horticultural imperialist.

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