Purple wiregrass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Aristida ramose

CATEGORY: C4 perennial


  • Tufted, warm-season perennial to  1.2m high
  • Stems tend to be wiry, often  branched and with very little leaf
  • Seedhead is a purple coloured,  spike-like panicle to 30cm long, with the branches loosely pressed against the  main axis
  • Seeds have a three-branched awn
  • Flowers from late spring to mid  summer


  • Grows on lighter textured, low  fertility, acid country, often on very drought prone soil; in some areas it can  become the dominant grass due to overgrazing of more desirable species.
  • More common where ground cover is  reduced
  • Highly drought tolerant, but frost  sensitive


  • Low forage value
  • Digestibility  ranges from 22-55%
  • Crude protein 2-6%


  • Provides ground cover even on the poorest soils where few other grasses  will grow and can be an indicator of soils less suitable for agricultural  production
  • Unpalatable and low yielding, it produces little leaf and what leaf is  produced is readily shed during times of stress
  • Seeds cause damage to the eyes, fleece, hides and flesh of animals
  • Has little or no response to elevated fertility, Application of  superphosphate and clover can increase its palatability and a decrease in  abundance
  • Manage to allow other, more desirable species (if present) to flower,  set seed and recover from grazing.  For  example, burn or slash wire grass late in the first winter to increase its leaf  production, then heavily stock over late spring and summer to suppress its  growth and seed set.  Rest from late  autumn to late spring to allow cool season and/or yearlong green perennials to  grow and set seed


  • Some species of Aristida can be difficult to distinguish without  expert knowledge
  • Spear grasses (Austrostipa species) have seeds with just one awn and tend to be much leafier
  • Wiry panics (Entolasia species) are very similar vegetatively, but the seeds lack awns
Purple wiregrass
Purple wiregrass

Purple wiregrass

Purple wiregrass