Rough speargrass or Corkscrew grass

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Austrostipa scabra (formerly Stipa scabra)

CATEGORY: C3 perennial


  • Tufted,  yearlong green perennial to 80cm tall
  • Leaves are  very fine, long, rolled and usually rough to touch
  • Seedhead is  a moderately contracted or open panicle to 30cm long
  • Spikelet is  10-15mm long, sharp pointed and with a long scythe-shaped awn
  • Flowers from  spring to autumn


  • Occurs on rocky  outcrops, westerly aspects and lighter textured well-drained soils
  • Commonest  where there is low ground cover and little soil depth
  • Highly  drought and frost tolerant


  • Low to moderate  grazing value
  • Digestibility of  green leaf is usually <60%
  • Crude protein 3–17%


  • Productive  in early spring and summer, but develops a high percentage of dead leaf, at  which stage it has low palatability and quality
  • Palatable  only when young
  • The seed is  sharp and can penetrate fleeces and skin or cause eye damage
  • Suited to  lightly stocked situations.  Resting at  flowering will aid persistence at higher stocking rates
  • Heavy  grazing or slashing at early flowering will reduce seed contamination, but may  reduce the populations over time
  • Has little  response to fertiliser and tends to decline under super and clover application  due to increased competition


  • Plume  grasses (Dichelachne micrantha and D. crinita) have dense seedheads and broader leaves
  • Snow grass (Poa sieberiana) is vegetatively similar,  but doesn’t have awns in the seedhead
  • Serrated  tussock (Nassella trichotoma) can  look very similar when not in flower; but has rolled leaves, a small,  membranous ligule and pink, fluffy seedhead
  • Chilean needle grass (N. neesiana) can look similar, especially when in flower, but has a  tiny ring of tissue topped by short hairs between the seed and awn

(Habit: H Rose)