Weed Identification

Australia > > Plant Form - Grass > African Feather Grass

African Feather Grass

Pennisetum macrourum

Family: Poaceae.

Form: Grass

Origin: Native of southern Africa.

Flowers/Seedhead: A compact spike to 30 cm long and to 2 cm wide. Flowers spring to autumn.

Description: Tufted rhizomatous perennial to 2 m high. Leaf blades to 12 mm wide and to 60 cm long; ligule a fringe of hairs to 2.5 mm long.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by cylindrical seedhead; spikelets to 6 mm long surrounded at base by bristles 1015 mm long that are rough to touch, not joined at the base and with 1 bristle longer and thicker than the rest.

Dispersal: Spreading mainly by rhizomes, and pieces transported after excavation. Spikelets fall with attached bristles that readily cling to clothes and wool. Spikelets are also spread by water and wind. Sometimes spread as an ornamental.

Confused With: Other Pennisetum species, see taxonomic texts for detailed distinguishing features.

Erect seedheads & leaves, Frankston,
Victoria, December
photo J.R. Hosking

Notes: Possibly introduced to Australia in hay brought back with horses after the Boer War. Spring and summer growing grass that is drought resistant, has low palatability, harbours rabbits, is a fire hazard and restricts access to watercourses. Often found on sandy soils.


    Noxious Weeds of Australia.W. Parsons and E. Cuthbertson, 1992, pages 116118. Flora of NSW. G. Harden (ed), Vol. 4, 1993, pages 497500. Flora of Victoria. N.Walsh and T. Entwisle (eds), Vol. 2, 1994, pages 611612.

Cylindrical seedheads with bristles around
spikelets (seedhead bent for photo)

This weed has been included in the WEEDeck field guide as card G16

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


Australia > > Plant Form - Grass > African Feather Grass


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