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.
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.