Pampas

(Cortaderia species)
Pampas flowering plant, image: Karen Stewart, DPIPWE

What is pampas?

  • Pampas is an aggressive environmental weed.
  • There are three species of pampas in Tasmania: Cortaderia selloana, common pampas grass, C. jubata, pink pampas, and C. richardii, toe toe. Their features are similar so for practical purposes they are treated as one weed. All are large, vigorous, dense, tussocky perennials.
  • Pampas is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of pampas are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify pampas

  • Pampas are large, tussock-forming grasses; tussocks can be a metre or more in diameter and over 2 metres high.
  • Pampas leaves grow up to 2 m long, are thin and tapered to a fine tip. The large and showy, plume-like flower heads can reach 4 metres in height and vary in colour from white-yellow-pink. Pampas flowers and sets seed in autumn.
  • For help in identifying pampas, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora Database for pampas illustrations. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 for help.
New Zealand Toe toe (Cortaderia richardii), image: Karen Stewart, DPIPWE Pampas flowering plants, image: Tim Rudman, DPIPWE Pampas close-up of male flower
Image top: Pampas flowering plant, © Karen Stewart, DPIPWE
Images above, L-R: Cortaderia richardii flowering plant, © Karen Stewart, DPIPWE; Flowering pampas plants, © Tim Rudman, DPIPWE; Close-up of male pampas flower.

Pampas in Tasmania

  • Pampas is widespread in Tasmania, occurring in coastal and bushland vegetation, silvicultural operations, quarries, neglected areas, road and rail corridors, and creek and swamp verges. Pampas is also found in gardens and as wind-break plantings.
  • Pampas can rapidly colonise disturbed or burnt areas in a range of vegetation types from coastal scrub to closed wet forest, where it readily out-competes native vegetation. Pampas is problematic for the forestry industry, and can impede access along roads, walking tracks and coastal recreation areas.
    Pampas is also highly flammable and poses a significant fire hazard.

What is the legal status of pampas in your area?

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

See also

Other useful links

Pampas Control Guide

Do

  • Plan your control program, this will save time and money in the long-run;
  • Coordinate your control program with neighbouring landholders where your pampas problem crosses property boundaries;
  • Use a combination of different control methods: combining both physical and chemical measures can be effective;
  • Be sure to eradicate every last plant: pampas seedlings may continue to 'appear' at a treated site, indicating that a parent plant is still present in the area;
  • Remove all root material in the ground, as pampas can regrow from these root fragments;
  • Ensure machinery and equipment is washed down between sites or prior to contractors leaving site;
  • Revisit the site and use follow-up treatments over at least several years.

Don't

  • Don't let pampas plants set seed - stopping seed production is the key to stopping the spread of the weed;
  • Don't leave root fragments in the ground, as pampas can regrow from these root fragments;and
  • Don't dump live pampas material, as this can spread seed and allow plants to regrow from root fragments.

Spread of pampas

  • Pampas reproduce mainly by seed, but can also grow from root fragments.
  • Sexual reproduction varies between pampas species. C. selloana needs the presence of both the female and bisexual plants for pollination and seed set, while C. jubata plants are all female and produce large quantities of seed without the need for pollination. Up to 100, 000 seeds can be produced per flower head. Seeds are light and can be windblown for distances of up to 25 km.
  • Pampas can also spread via fragments of rhizome (underground stem) being moved during cultivation, on dirty equipment and machinery or when pampas material is dumped and allowed to regrow.
  • See the Washdown Guidelines for Weed and Disease Control for detailed information on how to wash-down equipment and personnel to reduce the chance of spreading pampas.

Physical removal

  • Small pampas plants can be removed manually by hand-pulling or digging out the entire plant with a mattock. Ensure all root material is removed.
  • Plants can be slashed with a brushcutter or burned to make root removal with a mattock easier.
  • Larger plants may require machinery to remove the whole plant including the root system.
  • Removed pampas material should be burned or buried more than 1 meter deep. Plants can also be left upside down with roots exposed to die. Never dump live pampas with root material as pampas can regrow from root fragments.
  • To prevent seed spread, cut and remove flower heads as soon as they appear in autumn, and securely bag and dispose of.

Burning

  • Pampas can be burned to reduce mass and prevent flowering.
  • Plants can regrow from roots left in the ground, so follow up after burning is essential.
  • Pampas is highly flammable, and care is needed when burning.

Grazing or replanting

  • Where possible, graze infested areas or replant to native tree and shrub species.

Chemical control

Herbicides for Pampas Control

Herbicides for Pampas Control


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.

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