Texas Needle Grass

(Nassella leucotricha)

What is Texas needle grass?   

  • Texas needle grass is a tussock forming perennial grass, which is highly invasive and can form dense infestations, particularly on poorly managed sites. It prefers open grassland sites similar to those favoured by native grassland species.
  • Texas needle grass is unpalatable, and can severely reduce the carrying capacity of pastures.
  • Texas needle grass is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of Texas needle grass are prohibited in Tasmania.
  • Closely related to serrated tussock, and Chilean needle grass, both Weeds of National Significance (WoNS).

Texas Needle Grass Source Image: Texas needle grass, © RG & FJ Richardson,
Australian Plant Image Index.

How to identify Texas needle grass

  • Texas needle grass is a perennial tussock-forming grass in the spear grass group (Tribe Stipeae). It grows to about 1-1.5 m high. The weed thrives under conditions of moderate soil disturbance and poses a threat to agriculture and native vegetation.  
  • The leaves of Texas needle grass are mid to dark green leaves up to 5mm wide and a ligule to 3mm long. Hairs along the leaf surface and a small tuft of hairs at the junction of the leaf blade and sheath are distinctive features. 
  • Texas needle grass produces 2 types of seeds, panicle (normal) and Cleistogene (stem and base). Cleistogene seeds form at the base of the tussock enabling reproduction even if flowering has been prevented by grazing or slashing. 
  • Flowering time is from October to February.
  • See the Nassella species identification comparison table below for more information on identification.

Texas Needle Grass Image: Texas needle grass seed head,
© RG & FJ Richardson, Australian Plant Image Index​.

Texas needle grass in Tasmania

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

What you need to do?

  • If you locate Texas needle grass anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be Texas needle grass, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.

See also        

Texas Needle Grass Statutory Weed Management Plan
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links

Pest Genie

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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