Cane Needle Grass

​(Nassella hyalina)

Cane Source 

Photo by D McLaren Australian Plant Image Index

What is Cane needle grass?     

  • Cane needle grass is a serious weed of grasslands, pastures, woodlands and disturbed areas on fertile soils. 
  • Cane needle grass is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Cane needle grass are prohibited in Tasmania.
  • Cane needle grass is on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage.
  • Cane needle grass is closely related to Serrated tussock, and Chilean needle grass, which are both Weeds of National Significance (WoNS).


 Cane Grass

 Photo by D McLaren Australian Plant Image Index

How to identify Cane needle grass

  • Cane needle grass is a tussock forming perennial grass growing up to 20cm high with tall erect flower stems resembling a cane.
  • Cane needle grass has linear leaves that are flat or rolled inwards and are rough to the touch.
  • The erect seed head is an open panicle with many flower spikelets, but it also produces hard, nut-like stem seeds (cleistogenes) within the leaf sheath at the stem joints (nodes).The seeds are 4-5 mm long and have a long bristle or awn, which is twisted near the base and twice bent.
  • The seeds of cane needle grass are very sharp and clinging and readily attach themselves to clothing, fur and machinery/equipment. The seed can also contaminate wool and injure sheep by imbedding in skin and eyes.
  • Seeds can be spread when soil is moved. Cane needle grass seed can also be readily transported in hay.
  • Cane needle grass is drought tolerant and forms dense, competitive infestations.
  • It has only intermediate feed value to stock which are likely to avoid the plant when more palatable pasture species are present.

 Cane Needle

 Photo by Catherin Herms, Ohio State University

See the Nassella species identification comparison table below for more information on identification

Cane needle grass in Tasmania

  • Cane needle grass is not naturalised in Tasmania at present.

What is the legal status of Cane needle grass in your area?

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

What you need to do?

  • If you locate Cane needle grass anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be Cane needle grass, immediately contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 to report this weed.
For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.
See also        
Other useful links
Important Disclaimer
To the extent permitted by law, the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (including its employees and consultants) excludes all liability to any person for any consequences, including but not limited to all losses, damages, costs, expenses and any other compensation, arising directly or indirectly from using information or material (in part or in whole) contained on this website.


Nassella species identification comparison table

 Lobed Needle GrassCane Needle GrassTexas Needle GrassChilean Needle GrassSerrated Tussock
StatusIntroduced, Declared, an Alert List WeedIntroduced, Declared, an Alert List WeedIntroduced, Declared, an Alert List WeedIntroduced, Declared, Weed of National SignificanceIntroduced, Declared, Weed of National Significance


(note in these images that the outer casing of the seed, the 'glume', has been renoved to reveal seed detail)

'Corona', the collar at seed basePresentPresentPresentPresentAbsent
'Awn', the bristle-like seed tail


double bent

firmly fixed to seed coat


Twisted and bent

35-60mm long

Bent twice with 10-20mm to first bend


Straight or double bent

Firmly fixed seed coat



Readily detached from seed coat

'Cleistogenes', or stem seedsAbsentPresentPresentPresent Absent
'Ligule', the flap at the leaf base
Overall dimensions

0.5-1.0m high and

0.3 -0.5m across

to 1m high,

to 0.3m across

1-1.5m high,

0.2 -0.5m across

1-1.5m high,

0.3 -0.6m across

to 1m high,

to 0.6m across


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