Weed Identification

Australia > > Gamba Grass

Gamba Grass

Andropogon gayanus


Family: Poaceae.

Form: Grass

Origin: Native to Africa.

Flowers/Seedhead: Seedhead: Terminal paired racemes that spread to a V-shape (see photo). Heads mature brown. Flowers autumn and winter.

Description: Perennial grass that forms tussocks. Stems hairless. Leaves to 30 cm long, to 2 cm wide and often with a white midrib.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by erect habit to 4 m high; racemes in pairs, one with spikelets to the base and one with a bare base for 6 mm; spikelets paired with one spikelet being on a stalk and the other not; awns to 30 mm long and hairy (fluffy when mature) seedheads.

Dispersal: Planted as a pasture species and initially this has been the main source of spread. Seeds spread by wind and water, and by vehicles and machinery in mud and on radiators.

Grows to 4m tall, Darwin, NT, July
photo C. Wilson

Notes: Forms dense patches out-competing native plants. Introduced as a pasture species but has low palatability when mature. Requires constant slashing or grazing to be of pastoral use. Grows in savanna woodlands where rainfall is over 600 mm per annum. Also grows in degraded areas, roadsides, pastures as well as native vegetation. Provides fuel for hotter than normal fires that damage native plants. Major weed of Venezuela and regarded as a serious threat to savannas of northern Australia.


    Reference: Weeds of Natural Ecosystems: a field guide to environmental weeds of the Northern Territory. N. Smith, 1995, NT Environment Centre, page 49.

Leaf with white midrib

Hairy spikelets

Matures to a V-shaped seedhead,
Darwin, NT, May
photo C. Wilson

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card G04

More information about WEEDeck is available from Sainty & Associates Pty. Ltd.


Australia > > Gamba Grass


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