African feather grass

(Pennisetum macrourum)

Total Control Pest

African Feather Grass is an aggressive, rhizomatous, perennial grass that forms dense tussocks up to 2 metres high. It resembles a small pampas grass when not flowering. The plant has a distinctive flower, being a narrow panicle stem up to 300 millimetres long, and yellow to purple in colour, with flowering occurring from November to April. It spreads either by seeds, which are distributed by wind, water and animals, or by vegetative spread through their rhizomes (root system).

Reasons for the Strategy

A mound of African Feather Grass.

African Feather Grass is an aggressive, unpalatable plant that excludes desirable vegetation, and in some situations outcompetes pasture. It is highly invasive, capable of displacing blackberry, and has a high potential to damage natural areas and become a major pest of roadsides, wasteland, and urban areas. Once established, it can inhibit movement by people, farm animals and small machinery, block drains, and restrict roadside vision. It is very persistent and difficult to eradicate.

African Feather Grass is assessed at “2” on the infestation curve. There are five known sites in the Grampians, Atawhai, Foxhill and Hiwipango areas. The low incidence of African Feather Grass in the Tasman-Nelson region, extensive areas of suitable habitat, and the potential for it to cause significant adverse effects, mean the benefits of total control far outweigh the costs.

Objective

To contribute to the eradication of African Feather Grass by ensuring that all known sites in the Tasman-Nelson region are inspected annually and all live plants are destroyed during the term of the Strategy.

Alternative Measures

The alternative option of “do nothing” or relying on voluntary control will not achieve the objective of eradication, and will result in significant additional costs to the community with respect to lost production and the increased cost of control in the future.

Strategy Rule for African Feather Grass

The occupier shall destroy all adult and juvenile forms of African Feather Grass on land that they occupy. A breach of Strategy Rule 4.1.5 is an offence under Section 154(r) of the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Biosecurity Act Requirement

No person shall knowingly sell, propagate, breed, release, or commercially display African Feather Grass, under Sections 52 and 53 of the Act.