African feather grass (Pennisetum macrourum) is a native of South Africa. It was first recorded in New Zealand in the early 1900s. It was initially used to bind soil together and was later used as an ornamental grass.
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African feather grass forms large clumps up to two metres high, invading pasture areas, road side verges, stream sides and conservation reserves. It can completely suppress low growing plants and get in the way of animals, people and machinery. Dense patches provide habitat for pests such as rabbits, block drains and may impair visibility. African feather grass is also unpalatable to stock and therefore poses a threat to pasture production.
What it looks like
African feather grass is a perennial grass.
- white-green on top with a dark green, purple edge underside
- grow to about 60cm in length
- strong and rough to touch.
A narrow, cylindrical stem about 30cm long with bristles.
Appear from November to April.
Where you can find it
African feather grass prefers damp areas along stream sides, swamps and moist pasture conditions. It is also extremely drought resistant and will tolerate a range of soil types. Plants do not tolerate shade and will seldom establish under forest canopies. African feather grass reproduces by seeding, or vegetative growth from its strong rhizomes.
There are a limited number of African feather grass sites in the Waikato region.
Responsibility for control
Waikato Regional Council is responsible for controlling African feather grass. Our Regional Pest Management Strategy aims to eradicate all known infestations and maintain the region free of re-infestation.
African feather grass is a total control plant pest for the entire Waikato region (requiring the eradication of all plants). The sale, propagation or distribution of this plant pest is prohibited.
Controlling African feather grass
African feather grass can be difficult to identify out of the flowering season. If you have any plants you suspect to be African feather grass, please contact your Biosecurity Plant Pest Contractor immediately.
For further information and advice contact your local Biosecurity Plant Pest Contractor.
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