Farmers Postcard: Grass and Plant Identification

Learning to identify grass weeds, grasses and native plants was the focus of this event. Kris Nash and Fiona Leach, Agricultural Adviser with South East Local Land Services led a two hour walk and talk in Bungendore in April 2019.

Kris showed the participants how to use the morphology of a grass plant for identification, most importantly the ligule and auricle on the sheath of the grass stem.

Copies of Kris’s handouts explaining the different parts of grasses and identification of grass weeds and native grasses can be found here.

Key messages were:

  • Clearing for agriculture, grazing and urban development has seen the decline of natural temperate grasslands in Australia. There is now only 0.5% of natural temperate grasslands left in Australia. Preserving and managing this declining valuable resource is very important.
  • You need some disturbance regime to manage native grassland. Aboriginal people used traditional burning techniques to manage the diversity of species living in an area.

Fire on native grasslands

  • Grass weeds are like teenagers, they change their appearance with the season making them difficult to identify at different times of the year.
  • Some tips to maintain a healthy pasture;
    • Don’t over graze the pasture and do practice rotational grazing.
    • Cover bare soil where possible and carry around some seed to sow desirable species.
    • Create micro climates for seeds to collect and germinate.
    • If you want to collect seed heads try using old baskets or branches to protect the seed from livestock and kangaroos.
  • African Love Grass can be distinguished from Hairy Panic by looking at the seed. The seed head of the African Love Grass has one seed on the end of the pinnacle. Older plants often look messy at the base with old curly leaves in the centre of the thatch. African Love Grass has a higher feed value than Serrated Tussock but is very invasive.

African Love Grass fact sheet

Serrated Tussock fact sheet

Chilean Needle Grass fact sheet

Friends of Grasslands Website