Curly Mitchell grass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Astrebla lappacea

CATEGORY: C4  perennial


  • A densely tufted, warm-season  perennial with stout rhizomes and growing 30-90cm tall
  • Leaves tend to curl when hayed-off,  hence the name “curly” Mitchell grass
  • The rigid, straight or curved,  spike-like seedhead (5-30cm long and 5-13mm wide) is usually held amongst the  foliage
  • Spikelets occur in two rows on one  side of the stem and have florets with a central bristle and two long lateral  lobes
  • Flowers mostly in summer, though  episodic


  • Common in the northeast on heavy  grey cracking clays that can store subsoil moisture over summer
  • Very drought tolerant, but low  tolerance to frost and flood


  • Moderate grazing  value
  • Digestibility  figures are not available
  • Crude protein  4.7-10.8%


  • Long lived, except when subject to  severe disturbance, such as overgrazing, heavy trampling, etc
  • Not highly nutritious at any  stage.  Hayed-off material is little more  than roughage
  • Not particularly palatable during  the growing season, but eaten during drier times and provides useful standover  feed
  • Tolerant of heavy grazing, except  during prolonged drought
  • Best maintained by moderate grazing  as this stimulates tillering and seed production
  • Recruitment and establishment are  infrequent (e.g. every 15-20 years), so rest pastures when good prolonged  summer rains occur to aid seedling establishment
  • Seed can be established by sowing  into a seedbed or over-sowing and using stock to trample the seed in during wet  weather; ideally in Sept/Oct or Jan/Feb when the profile is nearly full


  • Other Mitchell  grasses are less common in the area
  • The seedhead of  hoop Mitchell grass (A. elymoides) is  only 2-3mm wide
  • Barley Mitchell  grass (A. pectinata) has a shorter  (4-13cm), wider (1-2cm) spike-like seedhead with densely overlapping spikelets
Curly mitchel

(Mitchell grass grassland: C  Gardiner)

Further information

See also 'Grassed up' - Curly mitchell grass