Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Which introduced grasses cause the most damage?

Exotic perennial grasses are those which are not native to NSW and have a life-span of more than one growing season. More than 100 species of exotic perennial grasses occur in NSW. A relatively small number of these perennial grasses threaten native plant communities, and it is these species which are of concern. Exotic perennial grasses of special concern include the following:

Exotic perennial grasses in NSW
Scientific nameCommon nameImpact on biodiversityAdverse impact on agricultureCurrent usesRecognition as a weedReasons for introduction
Agrostis capillarisBrowntop bentDisplaces native vegetation.Considered a pasture weed.Turf.Probably as a turf species.
Andropogon virginicusWhisky grassBushland weed. Encroaches on native vegetation.Considered a pasture weed.Accidental as packing around whisky bottles.
Cenchrus ciliarisBuffel grassIncreases fire frequency and intensity. Displaces native vegetation and reduces fauna habitat.Pasture in tropical and sub-tropical areas.Pasture species and soil stabilisation.
Chloris gayanaRhodes grassReplaces native vegetation at disturbed sites.Pasture and soil stabilisation.Pasture species.
Cortaderia spp.Pampas grassesHighly invasive, particularly of disturbed open sites. Changes the structure of vegetation community and fire regime. Has naturalised in dry coastal plains, heathlands, riparian areas, wetlands, eucalyptus forests and, less frequently, grasslands.Listed as a noxious weed across NSW.Garden plant of the 1970s. Planted for fodder, windbreaks and to stabilise soil.
Ehrharta erectaPanic veldtgrassAggressive species which invades natural areas, including grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands and riparian areas.Harvested by pet owners to feed caged birds and guinea pigs.Unsure - probably as an agricultural impurity.
Eragrostis curvulaAfrican lovegrassInvasive in disturbed areas, especially grasslands. Dominates the groundcover on low-nutrient soils. Has invaded heathlands, woodlands and grasslands in Victoria.Mature plants of most forms are unpalatable for stock.One form, 'consul lovegrass', is used in agriculture for feed and to control spiny burr grass and blue heliotrope.Noxious weed in NSW.Used for pasture and soil stabilisation.
Hyparrhenia hirtaCoolatai grassHighly invasive grass which replaces other species and is capable of invading relatively undisturbed vegetation. Rapidly spreading in many parts of NSW.Reduces productivity of pastures, as mature plants are unpalatable to stock. Generally considered undesirable but can perform well under heavy stocking pressure.Introduced as a soil stabilising species.
Melinis minutifloraMolasses grassFodder species.Introduced for erosion control and fodder.
Nassella neesianaChilean needle grassHighly invasive. Crowds out native plants, particularly native grasslands, grassy woodlands and riparian areas.Reduces agricultural production.Listed as a Weed of National Significance. Noxious weed in 11 local government areas.Accidental - probably as an agricultural impurity.
Nassella trichotomaSerrated tussockHighly invasive. Competes with and crowds out native species.Reduces productivity of pastures. Unpalatable to livestock.None.A Weed of

National Significance. Noxious weed in parts of NSW.

Accidental - as an agricultural impurity.
Panicum repensTorpedo grassInvades bushland and disturbed sites in wet areas.Unsure.
Paspalum urvilleiVasey grassInvades bushland and disturbed sites.Unsure.
Pennisetum clandestinumKikuyuBushland, swamp and wetland weed. Replaces other species. Reduces fauna habitat.Crop weed in some situations.Common lawn species and useful pasture species.Described in Blood (2001).Lawn, soil stabilisation and pasture species.
Phalaris aquaticaPhalarisInvasive to native grasslands, grassy woodlands, forests, wetlands and riverine environments. Increases risk of fire.In certain circumstances, can be toxic to stock.Important pasture species. Used to reduce soil acidity and salinity.Pasture species.
Sporobolus fertilisGiant Parramatta grassDisplaces native grasses and is a fire hazard.Reduces productivity of pasture.Noxious weed in NSW.Accidental - as an agricultural impurity.
Sporobolus natalensisGiant rat's tail grassDisplaces native grasses and is a fire hazard.Reduces productivity of pasture.Noxious weed in NSW.Accidental - as an agricultural impurity.
Urochloa muticaPara grassInvades banks of streams and shallow water, displacing native species.Blocks irrigation channels. A weed of sugar cane.Used as a pasture species.Pasture species.

Page last updated: 02 March 2011