Weed Identification

Australia > > Mexican Feather Grass

Mexican Feather Grass

Nassella tenuissima

IMPORTANT: IF YOU SUSPECT THE PRESENCE OF THIS PLANT, PLEASE REPORT IT BY CALLING 1800 084 881 (local call cost anywhere in Australia).

Alternative Name(s): White Tussock, Stipa tenuissima.

Family: Poaceae.

Form: Grass

Origin: Native from southern USA to Chile and Argentina.

Flowers/Seedhead: Seedhead: Young seedheads held among the leaves; mature seedhead to 25 cm long; glumes to 1 cm long; callus bearded. Flowers summer.

Description: Perennial grass forming dense tussocks to 0.8 m high. Leaf blades to 0.5 mm wide, tightly rolled and with small serrations that can be felt when fingers are moved downward along the blade.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by hairless nodes, some usually visible; ligule membranous and hairless, to 2.5 mm long; glumes purplish in the lower half; lemma to 3 mm long, with some hairs to 0.3 mm long at the top (at the base of the own); own narrow, straight or obscurely twice bent, 4.59 cm long; attached centrally to the top of the lemma.

Dispersal: Spread by seed and as an ornamental.

Confused With: Serrated tussock, Nassella trichotoma, which has shorter awns 23.5 cm long that are attached off-centre at the top of the lemma.

Distinguished by long awns and lack of corona
Inset: seed
photo J.J. Dellow illustration E. Mayfield

Notes: Initially mislabelled and sold as an ornamental in Australia under the names Elegant Spear Grass, Pony Tail and Angel's Hair. Mexican Feather Grass is not known to be naturalised in Australia to date. This grass is a weed in its native range and is considered to be of low palatability. If this species naturalises in Australia it potentially has a wider range than Serrated Tussock. Mexican Feather Grass escaped from cultivation in New Zealand and has become a weed that is continuing to spread.


    Reference: Telopea. S. Jacobs et al., 1998, Vol. 8, pages 4146.

Shows the difference between seeds of
the 3 illustrated species.
NB long bent awns of N. tenuissima

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card G13.
More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.

It has also been included in the 'Jumping the Garden Fence' report (WWF-Australia PDF - 1.19mb) which examines the impact of invasive garden plants on Australian agricultural land and natural ecosystems.


Australia > > Mexican Feather Grass


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