Chilean Needle Grass

Also known as:
Stipa Neesiana
Chile & Argentina

General description

Erect, tufted, perennial tussock <1m high, many shoots from base, harsh to touch. Like fescue in appearance. Leaves <5mm wide, flat, strongly ribbed on upper surface, rough bristly edges; upper surface bright green, underside dull grey-green. Large drooping purplish flowerheads (Nov-Dec). Seedhead hard, hairy, has pointed callus with very sharp, penetrating base. Seeds with long hair.

Dry, low fertility, open areas. Does not establish in fertile pastures where competition from other plants is too great.

Seeds via wool, clothing etc. Penetrate animal pelts. Backward pointing hairs prevent dislodgement.

Unpalatable to stock, forms dense clumps even in grazed areas, reduces pasture productivity. Sharp seeds damage pelts, blind livestock, can move through skin into muscles, causing abscesses.

Site management

Control before seeding period (Nov to Dec). Revegetate & maintain pasture with desirable species. Always exclude stock, machinery when in seed, look for adhering seeds. Follow up 6-monthly until eliminated.

Recommended approaches

1. Report it immediately to the Auckland Council Biosecurity team, who will arrange for its control at their expense.
2. Grub out small infestations before seed set (Nov to Dec).
3. Weed wipe spring (500ml glyphosate/1L).
4. Spray spring (60ml haloxyfop + 50ml crop oil/10L (selective) or 150ml glyphosate + 20ml penetrant/10L).

Caution: when using any herbicide or pesticide PLEASE READ THE LABEL THOROUGHLY to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

nassella tussock
Nassella trichotoma

The awn (the long bristle-like appendage extending from the end of the seed) 2 to 3.5 cm in N. trichotoma and 6 to 9 cm long in N. neesiana.

Mexican feather grass
Nassella tenuissima

Mexican feather grass has much finer leaves. The awn (the long bristle-like appendage extending from the end of the seed) is 4.5 to 9 cm long in N. tenuissima and 6 to 9 cm long in N. neesiana.

RPMS status

Total Control - Whole Region
National Pest Plant Accord species - nationwide
Chilean needle grass - Main species image