Cane Needle Grass

​(Nassella hyalina)

Cane Source 

Image: cane needle grass, © 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

 Image: cane needle grass, © 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.
  • See the Nassella species identification comparison table below for more information on identification.

 Cane Needle

Image: seeds caught in clothing, © Catherin Herms, Ohio State University

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?

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 Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.
 
See also        
 
Other useful links
 

Nassella species identification comparison table

  Lobed Needle Grass Cane Needle Grass Texas Needle Grass Chilean Needle Grass Serrated Tussock
StatusIntroduced; Declared;
an Alert List Weed.
Introduced; Declared;
an Alert List Weed.
Introduced; Declared;
an Alert List Weed.
Introduced; Declared;
Weed of National Significance.
Introduced; Declared;
Weed of National Significance.
FormTussockTussockTussockTussockTussock

Seed

(outer casing of seed, the 'glume', removed to reveal detail.) (Click to enlarge image*)

 
 

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

45-85mm

double bent

firmly fixed to seed coat

35-40mm

Twisted and bent

35-60mm long

Bent twice with 10-20mm to first bend

25-35mm

Straight or double bent

Firmly fixed seed coat

10mm

Straight

Readily detached from seed coat

'Cleistogenes', or stem seedsAbsentPresentPresentPresent Absent
'Ligule', the flap at leaf base
(Click to enlarge image*.)
 
 

 
 
 
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 acros

* Images in table:
© 2003 Weed Management Guides, Lobed needle grass, Chilean needle grassSerrated tussock, C'wlth Dept of the Env't & Heritage.
© Chilean Needle Grass & Serrated Tussock Ligule photos: Harry Rose (Wikimedia).

 

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