Nature conservation

Threatened species

A spear-grass - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Austrostipa metatoris
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Vulnerable
Profile last updated: 18 Oct 2022


Austrostipa metatoris is a perennial spear-grass that grows in tussocks to one metre tall. The leaves are tightly rolled, 2 - 4 mm wide, and strongly ribbed. The leaves are densely hairy on the upper surface and the margins are rough. The flower-heads are spreading and branched, 15 - 25 cm long and comprise numerous spikelets 16 - 20 mm long (excluding the awns). The awn (bristle) is weakly twice-bent and 5.5 - 6.5 cm long. Identification of Austrostipa species can be difficult, with separation from the closely related A. eremophila based on fine details of the coma, lemma and awn.


Most records occur in the Murray Valley with sites including Cunninyeuk Station, Stony Crossing, Kyalite State Forest (now part of Murrumbidgee Valley Regional Park) and Lake Benanee. Scattered records also occur in central NSW including Lake Cargelligo, east of Goolgowi, Condobolin and south west of Nymagee. Otherwise only known from near Bordertown in south east South Australia, where it may be locally extinct.

Habitat and ecology

  • Grows in sandy areas of the Murray Valley; habitats include sandhills, sandridges, undulating plains and flat open mallee country, with red to red-brown clay-loam to sandy-loam soils.
  • Associated species include Eucalyptus populnea, E. intertexta, Callitris glaucophylla, Casuarina cristata, Santalum acuminatum and Dodonaea viscosa.
  • Flowers in response to rain.
  • It is not known if fire plays a role in the ecology of this species although most species of Austrostipa provide an abundance of highly flammable ephemeral fuel in periods following above-average rainfall.
  • Recorded in populations as locally frequent or dominant only in scattered patches.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known West of Deniliquin
RiverinaRobinvale Plains Known None