African Fountain Grass

W Asia - N Africa

General description

Perennial, clump-forming grass to 1 m. Deep fibrous roots and short rhizomes which form new aerial shoots and roots. Leaves light green, very thin, tough and harsh. Stems erect, round, up to 1 m tall, purplish-white. Flowerhead brushlike, dense, narrow, bristly, purple-brown, 10-20 cm long, 10-20 mm diam; containing many seeds, each with 20 mm bristles.

Bare sand, dunelakes, estuaries, coastline, river systems, low shrubland, dry and disturbed forest.

Rhizomes creep outwards. Seed via water (limited by wind), clothing, animals, pelts. Rhizome fragments by soil movement, machinery, road graders. Flowerheads used in floral arrangements, gardens.

Outcompetes native pioneer spp in vulnerable habitats. Also invades established plant communities. Potential to cause accretion of sand and change in habitat, leading to erosion or flooding elsewhere, loss of dunelakes and wetlands. Fire hazard. Harbours rodents.

Site management

Unpalatable to livestock, do not graze to control. Do not treat when seed mature as increases contamination risk. Beware of fire hazard after spraying. Follow-up spray at least 6-monthly until regrowth ceases. Do not replant with monocot spp (esp grasses) for 2 years after initial spray. Where possible replant with dicot groundcover spp to allow follow-up haloxyfop spraying.

Recommended approaches

1. Dig out small infestations. Dispose.
2. Weed wipe (200ml haloxyfop/L or 200ml glyphosate/L).
3. Spray regrowth and where desirable plants present (150ml haloxyfop/10L) Spring-Autumn.
4. Spray dense sites (15ml glyphosate + 20ml penetrant/10L). Spring-Autumn. Tall stands can be slashed and new growth sprayed to enhance kill.

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

Similar species

African feather grass
Pennisetum macrourum

African feather grass is a larger plant with larger flowerheads.

Chinese pennisetum
Pennisetum alopecuroides

Chinese pennisetum has much smaller flower heads (7.5 cm) compared with 10-20 cm of African fountain grass.

RPMS status

National Pest Plant Accord species - nationwide
Surveillance - Whole Region
African fountain grass - Main species image