What is feathertop?

(Pennisetum villosum)

feathertopGeneric Weed Distribution Map
Image: feathertop (Image: Penny Hussey)

  • Feathertop is a pasture weed.
  • Feathertop is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of feathertop are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify feathertop

  • Feathertop is a perennial (long-lived) tussock-forming grass growing to 90 cm high. The stems are cylindrical, erect or slightly bent, with several stems emerging from a crown. Each stem has up to 6 green or blue-green leaves, 6 to 30 cm long, 2 to 6 cm wide and finely serrated along the edges. The distinctive flower head is a dense, feathery spike 2 to 12 cm long, and gives the plant its name.
  • Seeds germinate in summer but few seedlings survive in the field. Flowering occurs in late summer and seeds are produced in March and April. The plant dries out in winter and new shoots are produced from the rhizomes (underground stems) in the following spring and summer.
  • For help in identifying feathertop, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora Database. 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.

Feathertop in Tasmania

  • The distribution of feathertop in Tasmania is relatively limited. Feathertop prefers disturbed soils and occurs as an occasional weed of degraded pastures, roadsides, creeks and neglected areas on Flinders and Cape Barren Islands and around Hobart and South Launceston. Feathertop also occasionally appears in the ornamental plant trade.
  • Feathertop is unpalatable and dense infestations of the tussocks can reduce the productivity of grazing areas.

What is the legal status of feathertop in your area?

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

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

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

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

Other useful links

Pest Genie

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