Plains grass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Austrostipa aristiglumis

CATEGORY: C3  perennial


  • Warm season native perennial grass growing in tufts up to 2m  tall.
  • Leaves are up to 6mm wide and 40cm long, rolled in the  sheath.  The sheath and leaves are ribbed  and generally hairless
  • It has a stiff membranous ligule and thickened auricles
  • Seedhead is an open panicle to 55cm long, with spreading,  whorled branches.  Large spikelets have a  twice-bent 3-4cm long awn
  • Flowers in spring  and summer


  • Widespread in the eastern half of the plains and extending  to the slopes
  • Common on heavy clay soils; it prefers good moisture, high  fertility, and neutral to alkaline soils
  • Particularly frost sensitive, but drought tolerant


  • Low to moderate  grazing value
  • Digestibility  ranges from 39.5-59.1%, but old hayed-off material is as little as 30.0%
  • Crude protein  3.8-12.2%


  • Provides a competitive perennial pasture  which is resilient to weed invasion
  • Provides  moderate quality feed for livestock when vegetative; low quality when flowering
  • More  readily grazed by cattle than sheep
  • Seeds can cause injury to stock, especially  sheep.  Heavy grazing or slashing at  flowering will reduce seed contamination, but may reduce the populations over  time
  • Tolerates  heavy grazing over summer and autumn, but occasionally resting at flowering  will aid persistence


  • Tall speargrass (Austrostipa bigeniculata) is quite similar, but has an awn 4-5.5cm  long
  • Other tall Austrostipa species have a similar appearance

(Plains Grass habitat: J  Kidston)