African Feather Grass

Flowering African feather grass.    Photo: DPI Victoria

What is African feather grass

(Pennisetum macrourum)
  • African feather grass (Pennisetum macrourum) is a weed of roadsides, waste areas, river banks and poorly maintained pastures.
  • African feather grass is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of African feather grass are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify African feather grass

  • African feather grass is a large tussock-forming grass growing to 2 m high, with an extensive root system down to 1 m in depth, and numerous rhizomes (underground stems) up to 2 m in length. These rhizomes give rise to new shoots around the parent tussock, enabling a single plant to spread quickly.
  • African feather grass leaves are light green above and grey-green below, and the leaf edge has fine serrations which can be felt as the finger is drawn from the tip to the base
  • African feather grass produces a long thin flower head in late spring to summer which is pale brown to straw colour, often with a purplish tinge. Prominent bristles approximately 10 mm long protrude out from the stem of the flower head. This distinctive flower head readily distinguishes African feather grass from the similar tussock-forming pampas grass.
  • Seed is released from the parent in late summer and autumn. The seeds are yellow to brown, with tiny barbed bristles attached to them, allowing them to easily lodge in animal fur and wool.
  • For help in identifying African feather grass, see the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database for illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.

Roadside infestation of African feather grass African feather grass.  Photo: Marlborough District Council
Image top right: African feather grass seedhead, photo: DPI Victoria.
Image above left: Roadside infestation of African feathergrass, Photo: DPI Victoria
Image above right: Flowering plant, Photo: Marlborough District Council .

African feather grass in Tasmania

African feather grass has been found in the Derwent and Huon Valleys, particularly near New Norfolk (see map). Most infestations have been controlled.

African feather grass can eliminate all other plants, provide shelter for rabbits and feral cats, and present a significant fire hazard. Dense infestations can also restrict stock movement including blocking access to waterways, and large plants can totally block waterways and channels by trapping silt and debris.

What is the legal status of African feather grass in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with African feather grass are laid out in the African feather grass Statutory Weed Management Plan.

Use the African Feather Grass WMP in the Statutory Weed Management Plan to find out whether your area falls in an eradication or containment zone.

Detailed management and control guidelines for African feather grass can be found in the African Feather Grass Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for African Feather Grass Control.

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