Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Now is the time to find needle grasses & volunteer opportunity in Castlemaine!

Posted on 19 November, 2020 by Ivan

Needle grasses, and in particular, Chilean Needle Grass (Nassella neesiana), are now in full seed and are becoming a serious pasture and environmental weed in our region. They are very invasive and form dense infestations in pastures, bushland and roadsides. They can tolerate drought and will seed prolifically, including self-pollinated seed in the stem and base of the plant, giving them great potential to spread and over-run existing vegetation. It has been estimated that the potential distribution for Chilean Needle Grass alone exceeds 40 million hectares across Australia.

A large, dense infestation of Texas needle grass near Malmsbury Photo Connecting Country

One of the biggest challenges facing the successful treatment of needle grasses is identifying infestations before they become large and dominating in the landscape. Thankfully, a local community champion recently produced an information sheet on how to differentiate invasive needle and native grasses, titled ‘Distinguishing between needle grasses and native grasses. The information sheet has useful photographs and identifying features of needle grasses, and compares these features to a variety of native grasses including spear grasses (Austrostipa species), wallaby grasses (Rytidosperma species) and native tussock grass (Poa labillardieri). Non-native grasses covered include Chilean, Texas and Cane Needle Grass (all members of Nassella genus), and the closely related Espartillo (Amelichloa caudata).

Landowners learning the finer points of needle grass identification at a field day. Photo Connecting Country

Please watch this video on how to identify Chilean Needle Grass, it is from New Zealand but highlights the important points of identifying this invasive grass. Click here

Another helpful information sheet, ‘What to do if you find needle grass’ details first-hand experience of how best to manage these grassy weeds and prevent further spread.

Volunteer opportunity in Castlemaine!

If you would to learn more about Needle Grasses and would like to attend a working bee please contact Margaret Panter on 5470 5072 (7am-7pm). Margaret is holding a socially-distanced working bee in the Castlemaine Botanic Gardens in the next few days, and as needed in the next couple of months. No experience necessary, and volunteers can attend as their availability allows.


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