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Feather Spear-grass

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Feather Spear-grass photos

Scientific Name:Austrostipa elegantissima
Feather Spear-grass plant
Feather Spear-grass plant
Photo: A J Brown


Australian native of Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.

Plant Description:

rhizomatous perennial grass with branched and decumbent stems to 2 m long. Leaves are hairless, to 12 cm long and 4 mm wide, when flat.

Flower-heads are widely spreading panicles, each to 25 cm long but often forming a large composite rounded mass of soft grey to pinkish heads (particularly when backlit). Panicle branches are plumose with silky hairs 1.5-3 mm long. Spikeletsare one-flowered and ‘spear-like’ with a long awn or bristle forming the shaft and the floret forming the spear-head. Spikelets, excluding awns are 7-13 mm long and awns are once or twice bent, 30-50 mm long. Florets are pale to dark brown at maturity with short white hairs at their base but otherwise more or less hairless.


Scattered but locally common throughout the Mallee and elsewhere across northern Victoria with occasional occurrences near Melbourne. Grows on granite, shales, calcareous and limestone soils, deep sands and saline flats.

RegionSalinity ClassWaterlogging Class
Mallee, Loddon Murray, Central and Northern, WimmeraS0, S1, S2W0, W1


There are many spear-grass species and they require expertise to tell apart. However, Feather Spear-grass is rather distinct with its spreading purple/pink panicle and plumose panicle branches. In saline ground, Feather Spear-grass often grows around the base and through woody shrub species such as Dillon Bush, where presumably soils are a little less saline than on surrounding flats.

Feather Spear-grass Photos

Feather Spear-grass panicles
Masses of panicles of Feather Spear-grass
Photo: A J Brown
Feather Spear-grass developing panicles
Developing panicle of Feather Spear-grass

Feather Spear-grass mature
Mature plant of Feather Spear-grass
Photo: A J Brown

}[Feather Spear-grass plumose
Plumose panicle branches of Feather Spear-grass
Photo: A J Brown

Feather Spear-grass growing through Nitre Bush
Feather Spear-grass growing through Nitre Bush
Photo: A J Brown
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