Chilean Needle Grass

Nassella neesiana
Family: Poaceae

Growth Habit: Chilean Needle Grass is very invasive, forming dense stands in pastures, bushlands and roadsides.

Type of Plant: A tussock perennial grass that grows to about 1 metre in height. Leaves are hairless or sparsely hairy, flat and contain ligules.

Flowers: It has a loose, sometimes interrupted panicle to 40 cm long

Fruit/Seed: This is the best way to identify the species. With its ability to produce both normal seeds and stem seeds, Chilean Needle Grass has great weediness. The seeds are pale brown when mature, mostly 8 to 10 mm long, with an awn 60 to 90 cm long. Stems seeds allow the plant to reproduce even if flowering has been prevented.

Dispersal: With the seeds having a similar appearance to native spear grasses, it can attach readily to stock and other animals, on clothing and in mud from machinery. Water is another significant dispersal agent for the plant.

Distribution: Found throughout temperate areas of New South Wales and Victoria, it was thought to have been introduced in the 1930’s. It occurs in temperate regions in Australia with an annual rainfall of more than 500 mm.

Status: Chilean Needle Grass is a Weed of National Significance.

Weed Impact:

  • This grass is fast becoming a serious pasture and environmental weed in south-eastern Australia, where it may reduce land value. The potential distribution is estimated to exceed 40 million hectares. The seeds are reported to penetrate and damage the fleece, skin and eyes of livestock

Information referenced from “Victorian Department of Natural Resources and Environment: Landcare Notes series no. PP0086, KTRI, May 1999.”