Kangaroo grass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Themeda triandra

CATEGORY: C4  perennial


  • Tufted, warm season  perennial to 1.5m tall
  • Leaves are  bluish/green in summer and rusty-purple to straw-coloured in winter
  • Leaves are folded,  with long hairs at the leaf-sheath junction; sheath is also hairy
  • Seedheads are  spatheate and to 50cm long; the large dark-brown seed has a long black awn


  • Common in  relatively undisturbed forests, woodlands and pastures that have not been  grazed or only lightly grazed
  • Able to colonise a  wide range of soil types and is tolerant of acid soils
  • Highly drought  tolerant, but frost sensitive


  • Low to moderate  feed quality, but this is highly variable across the region
  • Digestibility  ranges from 54-75 %
  • Crude protein  3.3-10.6%


  • A highly variable  species that is moderately productive with most growth being produced over  summer; many of the more palatable varieties have been grazed out
  • Leaves tend to have  low phosphorus level and are relatively palatable to cattle, but not sheep
  • A well managed  stand provides excellent competition against weed invasion
  • Although it is  frost sensitive, heavy grazing in late summer/autumn can produce new growth  that is more frost resistant and will remain green well into winter
  • Abundance declines  with increasing phosphorus or nitrogen applications
  • Avoid heavy  continuous grazing as its buds and storage organs can be depleted, leading to  thinning of stands.  Heavy grazing just  prior to stem elongation can also severely inhibit flowering.  However, heavy short-term grazing can be  useful in preventing the build-up of dead material, which creates a fire hazard  and lowers feed quality
  • Its abundance can  be encouraged by grazing systems that provide long rests or continuous grazing  at low stocking rates
  • In conservation  areas, the use of cool burns in autumn will promote the grass, although this is  not recommended as regular practice on farms
  • Seed can be sown by  spreading kangaroo grass mulch immediately after harvest in summer.  If the mulch is burnt in late winter when the  soil is still moist, the seed will germinate as the soil warms up


  • Barbed wire grass (Cymbopogon  refractus) has similar foliage, but with a lemon-gingery scent when crushed
  • Whisky grass (Andropogon  virginicus) lacks long black awns in the seedhead