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Species Page

serrated tussock grass

Nassella trichotoma


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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

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Poaceae (grasses)

List of symptoms / signs

Prevention and control

Cultural Control

Grazing by cattle and sheep cannot control N. trichotoma; however, at low weed density (10% of an improved pasture), goats can help to restrict weed population density (Campbell, 1982). Nevertheless, most reports claim that N. trichotoma is unpalatable and that animals will not readily graze it (Wells and de Beer, 1987). N. trichotoma burns readily but is quick to recover, whilst associated species are killed (Healy, 1945). Thus, ideal conditions are created for massive weed infestation because of the large seedbank (Campbell, 1982; Wells and de Beer, 1987). In general, therefore, burning can increase rather than decrease weed populations.

Afforestation has been used in both Australia and New Zealand to control N. trichotoma, especially with Pinus radiata (Healy, 1945; Campbell, 1982). However, it can take up to 6 years to shade-out the weed and prevent flowering, and a further 4 years before the tussocks die (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Miller, 1998). The planting of hedges or living windbreaks to trap windblown panicles has been practised in both Australia and South Africa (Campbell, 1982; Wells and de Beer, 1987).

Mechanical Control

Chipping, or severing the root system, has successfully been practised in New Zealand, following-on from other control measures, but is mainly used to kill isolated plants (Healy, 1945; Denne, 1988).

Ploughing can also have an impact but only in combination with other techniques (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992).

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

This information is part of a full datasheet available in the Crop Protection Compendium (CPC); For information on how to access the CPC, click here.


N. trichotoma causes more reductions in carrying-capacity than any other pasture weed in Australia (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 1992; Campbell, 1998). Similarly, in New Zealand, N. trichotoma can reduce the carry-capacity by up to 90%, leading to the abandonment of sheep farming (Healy, 1945). If forced to eat N. trichotoma, both sheep and cattle may die, due to the rumen becoming blocked by undigested leaves (Campbell, 1998). The annual benefits from control of N. trichotoma in New South Wales, Australia alone, have been put at over AU$40 million (Jones and Vere, 1998), mainly due to losses incurred by the wool and lamb industries.