Weed Identification Tips: Lobed Needle-grass

Lobed Needle-grass Nassella charruana is a tussock forming spear grass to approximately 1m high. It germinates and actively grows over Autumn and Winter and drops its seed over Summer and Autumn. Locally, LNG starts to drop seed from October onwards. LNG is unpalatable to stock and is often noticeable as dark green tussocks surrounded by short pasture (image 1).

The narrow, in-rolled Leaves of LNG grow from the plant base. The tough leaves feel a bit like nylon and can ‘squeak’ if you squeeze the leaves between thumb and forefinger and pull firmly. The ‘lobed’ seeds (image 2) are 4-10mm long with a bristle-like tail (the awn), which is 45-85mm long.

Like most needle-grasses, LNG readily invades highly disturbed areas, particularly fertile agricultural land (image 3). This species is largely restricted to the Whittlesea municipality and a management program administered by the Council will commence in the coming months. If you know or suspect Lobed Needle-grass is on your property, please contact Councils Land Management Team on 9217-2147 for further advice.

image2
LNG seed with notable ‘lobes’ where the awn (or tail) meets the Corona.
image3
LNG is unpalatable to stock and can be seen as dark green tussock arund which pasture has been grazed
image1
LNG Tussock

Lobed Needle Grass: How you can help

 

Lobed Needle Grass (LNG) is a tussock forming grass that can grow up to 1 metre high. It grows on clay soils and prefers wet depressions but can also be found growing on stony rises. LNG is native to Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. In the City of Whittlesea it can mainly be found in Epping, Mernda and Donnybrook.

This grass is closely related to the better known weeds such as Serrated Tussock (Nassella trichotoma) and Chilean Needle Grass Nasella neesiana. This is an unpalatable species that has the potential to outcompete its more familiar relatives.

In 1995, Lobed Needle Grass was officially recorded for the first time in Australia from a  specimen found in Thomastown! Even now, 21 years later, 94% of all records from Victoria for Lobed Needle Grass are found within the City of Whittlesea.

Due to the very restricted distribution of Lobed Needle Grass it was declared a State Prohibited Weed under the Conservation and Land Protection (CaLP) Act. This is the highest classification of noxious weeds in Victoria and as such the responsibility for eradicating State Prohibited Weeds falls to the State Government and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).

The City of Whittlesea has recently received correspondence from the Minister for Agriculture that DEDJTR has made the decision that it will no longer be coordinating or funding works on Lobed Needle Grass as it no longer believes that it can be eradicated from the state.

The Minister has further advised that while there is no legal responsibility under the CaLP Act for individual landowners to attempt to control this grass that Council can advise landowners that ‘this is an undesirable plant that may impact on the use of the land and control will help to maintain good relations with neighbours.”

The City of Whittlesea considers Lobed Needle Grass to be a serious threat to agricultural and environmental values and working closely with the State Government to secure funding for Lobed Needle Grass on private property.

What can you do?

If you own a property that was previously part of the State Governments eradication program, Council Officers would like to talk to you. We are trying to assess the current distribution of Lobed Needle Grass within our borders.

If you suspect that you may have Lobed Needle Grass on your property and need help to identify it, feel free to contact the team. There’s also a useful I.D link here. The City of Whittlesea’s Land Management and Biodiversity Team will be preparing a fact sheet and a workshop in time for a Spring control campaign in 2017.