Espartillo (Amelichloa caudata)

What is Espartillo?

(=Achnatherum caudatum)
Tussock of Espartillo, a weed in pastures and native grasslandsGeneric Weed Distribution Map

  • Espartillo is a pasture weed and an environmental weed in native grasslands.
  • Espartillo is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of espartillo are prohibited in Tasmania.


How to identify Espartillo

  • Espartillo is a perennial (long-lived), tussock-forming grass that grows to 75 to 100 cm high. It is similar to native spear grasses and is not easy to identify, so that a new infestation of espartillo may only be recognised once it has reached a large size.
  • Espartillo leaves are sheath-like and tightly pressed to the stems, loosening as they grow upwards. The stiff leaf blades are strongly ribbed on both sides. The leaf blades have spikey tips, and to the open hand the plant feels spiny. There are no rhizomes (underground stems) and the root system is fibrous.
  • Espartilllo produces two types of seed. Normal (pollinated) seeds are formed from the brownish purple flowers at the ends of flowering stems; and hard, nut-like seeds at the base of the stems which are self-pollinated. Unlike the normal seeds, the nut-like stem seeds can remain dormant for variable periods.
  • Seeds germinate in autumn and seedlings grow slowly during winter. Flowering stems develop in spring and flowering occurs from late-spring through summer.


Espartillo, a tussock-forming grass.Infestation of Espartillo, a tussock-forming grass.
Image top right: A tussock of Espartillo, photo: K Stewart - DPIPWE.
Image above left: Espartillo (Amelichloa caudata), photo: K Stewart - DPIPWE.
Image above right: Infestation of Espartillo, photo: K Stewart - DPIPWE.


Espartillo in Tasmania

  • The distribution of espartillo in Tasmania is relatively limited, with localised infestations on Flinders Island and around Brighton (see map).
  • Espartillo occurs on disturbed soils and is found as a weed of roadsides, streambanks and neglected areas, from which it can invade run-down pastures. It can also invade native grasslands. Espartillo is unpalatable and heavy infestations can reduce pasture productivity.


What is the legal status of Espartillo in your area?

The legal responsibilities of landholders and other stakeholders in dealing with espartillo are laid out in the Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo.

Use Table 1 (Zone A municipalities) in the Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo to find out whether this weed occurs in your municipality.

Detailed management and control guidelines for espartillo can be found in the Espartillo Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Espartillo Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Weed Links and Resources.

See also
Espartillo - Control Guide
Herbicides for Espartillo Control
Statutory Management Plan for Espartillo
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie
APVMA

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