Red grass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Bothriochloa macra

CATEGORY: C4 perennial


  • Tufted, warm season  perennial grass to 1m tall
  • Leaves generally  grow quite flat to the ground, especially when grazed
  • Leaves and stems  often reddish or purplish, especially after frost.  Nodes are red and hairless
  • Seedhead consists  of 2-4 erect branches (3-8cm long) pressed close together.  Seeds are awned
  • Flowers in summer  and autumn


  • Wide tolerance of  soil types and fertility types, except for very acid soils (pHCa  < 4.2)
  • Highly drought  tolerant, but frost sensitive


  • Moderate grazing  value, but low when frosted
  • Digestibility  ranges from 48-69 %
  • Crude protein 4-15  %


  • Tolerates  disturbance; one of the first native plants to return to drought affected sown  pastures
  • A valuable  coloniser of degraded areas and for useful for stabilising waterways
  • Can produce a large  amount of material, the majority of which is stem.  However, it can provide quality feed after  summer rain and is best utilised at this time
  • Responsive to  fertiliser and increased grazing pressure, but grows well in unfertilised areas
  • Best kept green and  leafy as it has a high stem to leaf ratio when flowering and stock tend to  avoid it once it goes to seed; rotational grazing helps maintain larger plants
  • Maintain heavier  grazing from late winter to mid spring to avoid clover and annual grass  dominance in spring or red grass populations can thin out dramatically
  • To increase  density, allow to seed in summer and rest pastures in late summer to aid seed  germination if conditions are suitable
  • Seed can be sown by  spreading seed-bearing hay or broadcasting and harrowing in spring or early  autumn


  • Red grass (Bothriochloa decipiens) is similar in most ways and close  inspection of the spikelet is required to distinguish it.
  • Kangaroo grass (Themeda australis)  is vegetatively similar, but has folded new leaves and a spatheate seedhead
  • Queensland bluegrass (Dichanthium  sericeum) has much hairier seedheads and stem nodes
  • Silky browntop (Eulalia aurea) seedheads are covered in dense, reddish-brown hairs

(Stemmy appearance of  lightly grazed plants: W Brown)