Plants of Melbourne's Western Plains:
A Gardener's Guide to the Original Flora, 2nd Edition

Grasses and Tussocks.

Hover over the name of the plant for detailed information.

Plant names are linked to information in Vicflora.

Austrostipa bigeniculata

Tall, Kneed or Plains Spear-Grass

A tall, slender tussock grass (H 20cm, stems to 1.2m) with narrow rigid leaves and large, open flowerheads in late spring and summer.
Suitable for most well-drained soils in an open position.

Austrostipa elegantissima

Feather Spear-Grass

A highly ornamental tussock grass (H 50—80cm, stems to 1m, W 1m) with numerous soft, wispy, buff-purplish open plumes. Flowers mostly in spring and early summer.
Prefers an open position in sun or semi-shade, in dry, well-drained soils. Suitable for rockeries or planting under eucalypts. Effective planted in groups. Allow sufficient space for the grass to display its feathery seedheads unhindered by other plants.
Occurs naturally in Escarpment Shrublands and in Yellow Gum and Grey Box Woodlands.

Austrostipa mollis

Soft Spear-Grass or Supple Spear-Grass

Forms a small, erect tussock (H 30cm, stems to 1.5m) with large, dense flowerheads on robust stems in spring and early summer.
Prefers dry, well-drained, gravelly soils, in sun or semi-shade. Often occurring naturally as monocultures in large drifts. Very drought tolerant.

Austrostipa scabra

Rough Spear-Grass or Slender Spear-Grass

An erect, fine-leaved, tussock-forming grass (H 25cm, stems 30—60cm) with numerous soft, silky flowerheads in spring and early summer.
Prefers a sunny position in well-drained, basalt or sedimentary soils. Common on dry valley slopes. Very drought tolerant. Best planted in groups. May self seed.
Similar species: Austrostipa semibarbata and A. rudis.

Austrostipa stipoides

Prickly Spear-Grass

An ornamental coastal plant, forming dense, prickly tussock (H to 1m, stems 1.5m, W 1m).
Prefers full sun in wet or dry soils.
Slow-growing. Ideal for massed plantings.

Bothriochloa macra

Red-leg Grass

A tufting grass (H 30—50cm, stems to 50cm) with reddish stems and racemes of narrow flowerheads, mostly in summer and autumn.
Requires well-drained, basalt soils in full sun or semi-shade. A summer-growing species that responds well to summer moisture. Dormant in winter.
Suitable for native grass lawns.

Carex breviculmis

Short-Stem Sedge or Common Grass-Sedge

A vigorous sedge (H 15—30cm, W 15—30cm) with fine foliage. Flowering stems are shorter than leaves. Prefers dry to moist soils and is commonly found among rocks of basalt or granite origin.

Chloris truncata

Windmill Grass

An attractive, tufted warm—season grass (H 30cm, W 1m) with decorative and characteristic windmill-shaped seedheads. The seedheads detach from the plant in summer and autumn when ripe and are dispersed by the wind.
A common grass in Grasslands and Grey Box Woodlands.

Dichanthium sericeum

Silky Blue-Grass

A tussock-forming grass (H 80cm, W 10—40cm) with blue-grey leaves and numerous silky flowerheads in summer to autumn.
Favours drier grasslands and dry, exposed valley slopes. Prefers an open position in dry, well-drained soil and self seeds readily. A great plant tor colonising bare ground. Suitable for rockeries.
Most effective when planted in groups. One of the most ornamental of the native grasses

Dichelachne crinita

Long Hair Plume-Grass

A fine-leaved tussock grass (H 1m) with attractive, cream—coloured plumes on long stems.
Prefers a sunny position in moist soils. Summer watering will extend flowering. Very hardy. Self seeds readily.

Enneapogon nigricans

Nine-Awn, Pappus or Blackhead Grass

A small tufting perennial grass (H 30cm) with grey-green leaves and blackish terminal flowerheads.
Prefers dry, well-drained soil in full sun. A mostly summer-growing species. it is suitable for colonizing harsh, dry sites.

Ficinia Nodosa

Knobby Club-Rush

An ornamental perennial sedge (H 80cm) that forms a rounded tussock. Dark green stems tipped with dense brown, globular seedheads that are retained for long periods.
Tolerant of permanent inundation or well-drained soils and extended dry periods.
A very hardy and adaptable species, suitable for mass plantings.

Juncus subsecundus

Finger Rush

Plant (H 60—90cm, W 20cm) comprises a tuft of slender, erect, leaf-like flower stems that are circular in cross-section (2mm diameter).
Flowers and seeds in branching clusters towards the end of each flower stem.
There are about 20 Juncus species occurring on the plains and most grow in wet environments. Juncus subsecundus is an exception and tolerates dry periods once established.

Lepidosperma laterale var. laterale

Variable Sword-Sedge

(H 1m, W 40cm—1m) Narrow, stiff, dark green strap-like leaves; flower stems almost identical to leaves but with flowerheads towards the ends. A very hardy, ornamental sedge, preferring moist, well-drained soil in full sun or semi-shade. Ideal for planting under eucalypts. Variable form, ranging from rounded tussock in moist shade to a few leaves in dry conditions.
Difficult to propagate, so it is not often seen in nurseries. Often occurs near riparian zones on the plains.

Lomandra filiformis ssp. Coriacea

Dwarf Mat-Rush

A small, clumping plant (H 30cm, W Spreading), with narrow, bright green leaves, 2—5mm wide. Suckers readily. Slow-growing but very drought tolerant. A very common component of grasslands in the west. There are separate male and female plants.

Lomandra filiformis ssp. filiformis

Wattle Mat-Rush

Forms a very attractive clump (H 30cm, W 30cm) of fine, blue-green leaves, 0.5—1.5mm wide, with numerous stalks of yellow flowers emanating from the base of the plant in spring.
Slow-growing, and will sucker. Suitable for well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade. Ideal for rockeries or containers. Very hardy. There are separate male and female plants.

Lomandra longifolia

Spiny-Headed Mat-Rush

A large tussock (H 1m, W 1m) with bright green, strap-like leaves and honey-scented, cream flower spikes in spring and summer. Male and female flowers on separate plants.
Common in escarpment and riparian areas. Prefers moist, well-drained soils in a sunny or semi-shaded situation. Tolerates heavy shade. Very hardy and drought tolerant.
Suitable for rock gardens or as a tall groundcover beside ponds or under trees. Often used in commercial landscapes around buildings, car parks, roundabouts and roadsides.

Lomandra nana

Dwarf, Small or Pale Mat-Rush

A very small, tufting plant (5cm, W 10—20cm) with fine bluish-green leaves and spikes of creamy flowers hidden in the foliage in spring early summer. Forms a compact tussock.
Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade.Ideal for rockeries or containers.

Microlaena stipoides

Weeping Grass

A slender perennial (H Semi-prostrate, stems arching to 50cm, W Spreading), semi-prostrate grass with drooping flowerheads. Prefers a sheltered position in moist, well-drained soil.
A suitable lawn substitute that is capable of colonising large areas fairly quickly.

Poa labillardierei

Common Tussock Grass

Forms a large tussock(H 1m, W 1m). Long, green, occasionally blue-green leaves that dry to a straw colour. Plume-like flowerheads in spring and summer.
A fast-growing tussock that tolerates a wide range of conditions, including shade and waterlogging. Prefers an open position in moist, well-drained soils.
Old tussocks can be rejuvenated by severe pruning and extra water to promote growth. Closely planted tussocks form a tall, effective groundcover. Can be used in rockeries and beside ponds. Widespread in grasslands, Grassy Woodlands and riparian zones.

Poa sieberiana

Grey Tussock-Grass

Forms a small tussock (H 40cm, W 40cm), with fine grey-green leaves. Loose green or purplish flowerheads are held above the foliage.
Prefers dry, well-drained soils in full sun or semi-shade.
Occurs naturally in grasslands- and woodlands. Ideal for rockeries or planting under eucalypts.

Rytidosperma caespitosum
(formerly Austrodanthonia caespitosa)

Common Wallaby Grass

Forms a small dense tussock (H 20—40cm, stems to 75cm) with green or blue-green foliage. Fluffy, buff-coloured flowerheads in spring and summer.
Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or light shade. Summer moisture will extend flowering.

Rytidosperma geniculatum
(formerly Austrodanthonia geniculata)

Kneed Wallaby-Grass

A very decorative small tussock (H 15—20cm, stems 20—50cm) with fine, green leaves and dense, compact growth habit. Numerous, buff-coloured flowerheads in spring and summer.
Suitable for rockeries, containers, wildflower gardens and in lawns. Prefers full sun or light shade.


(formerly Joycea


Low, tussock-forming grass (H 30cm, stems to 1m, W 40cm) with a tall stem and flowers with unusual, and striking, orange-red anthers in late spring or early summer.
Useful as an occasional plant in a rockery or mass-planting as the structural backbone in a wildflower garden of Wahlenbergia stricta, Xerochrysum viscosum and other erect wildflowers.

Rytidosperma racemosum
(formerly Austrodanthonia racemosa)

Clustered, Slender or Striped Wallaby-Grass

A small, graceful species (H 20cm, stems 20—60cm), with fine foliage and slender seedheads.
A hardy grass in mixed grasslands and persists in very weedy areas.

Rytidosperma setaceum
(formerly Austrodanthonia setacea)

Bristly Wallaby-Grass

(H 30—40cm, stems to 60cm) Fine foliage and small seedheads on erect stems. Very common in grasslands. Can be direct seeded using seed or thatch. An essential component of any wildflower garden.

Themeda triandra

Kangaroo Grass

Forms a large tussock (H 40cm—1m, W 50cm). Foliage is purple-green in spring, turning a pale rusty colour over the summer months. Flower spikes with rusty- or gold-coloured seedheads in summer. A warm season grass that grows mostly in spring and summer.
Prefers an open position, in well- drained soils. Spring and summer moisture will promote and extend flowering.
An iconic and dominant species throughout many grasslands and woodlands.

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