Lobed Needle Grass

(Nassella charruana)
Lobed Needle Grass McLaren Plant

Image: lobed needle grass, © D. McLaren, Australian Plant Image Index.

What is lobed needle grass?    

  • Lobed needle grass is a serious weed of open woodlands and introduced and native grasslands including grasslands dominated by other Nassella species.  

  • Lobed needle grass is a declared weed in Tasmania under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of lobed needle grass are prohibited in Tasmania.

  • Lobed needle grass is on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage. 

  • Closely related to serrated tussock, and Chilean needle grass, both Weeds of National Significance (WoNS).

Lobed Needle Grass 

Image: lobed needle grass in the field, © D. McLaren, Australian Plant Image Index.

How to identify lobed needle grass

  • Lobed needle grass is a perennial tussock that can grow up to 100 cm high.

  • Stems and leaves are tightly rolled and very smooth to touch. The bright green leaves feel like nylon cord when sliding fingers down the length of the leaf blade.

  • Seeds are around 6-8 cm long with two white lobes that look like wings surrounding the seed. The seed heads lean to one side and appear to shimmer in the afternoon sun.

  • It grows mainly in open areas, in direct sunlight or light shade, and on clay soils. It is tolerant to waterlogging and appears to prefer wet depressions. 

  • Lobed needle grass is an extremely invasive weed due to its competitiveness, un-palatability and very sharp and clinging seeds.

  • See the Nassella species identification comparison table below for more information on identification.

Lobed needle grass in Tasmania

  • Lobed needle grass is not naturalised in Tasmania at present. 

What is the legal status of lobed needle grass in your area?

What you need to do?

  • If you locate Lobed needle grass anywhere in Tasmania, or if you find a plant that you think could be Lobed needle grass, immediately contact Biosecurity Tasmania on 03 6165 3777 to report this weed.

See also

Lobed Needle GrassStatutory Management Plan

Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links
Weeds in Australia

Lobed Needle Grass Weed Management Guide
Pest Genie

Nassella species identification comparison table

​Lobed Needle Grass
Cane Needle Grass​​
​Texas Needle Grass
Chilean Needle Grass​​
​Serrated Tussock
​Introduced Declared; an Alert List Weed 
Introduced; Declared;
an Alert List Weed.​
Introduced; Declared;
an Alert List Weed.

Introduced; Declared;
Weed of National Significance.

Introduced; Declared;
Weed of National Significance

(outer casing of seed, the 'glume', removed to reveal detail.)

Seed Chilean Needle Grass

​"Corona", the collar at seed base
​'Awn", the bristle like seed tail


double bent

firmly fixed to seed coat​

Twisted and bent​​

​35-60mm long 
Bent twice with 10-20mm to first bend​

​25-35mm Straight or double bent.
Firmly fixed seed coat​

Readily detached from seed coat

​'Cleistogenes', or stem seeds

'Ligule', the flap at leaf base

Ligule Chilean Needle Grass

Overall dimensions
​0.5-1.0m high
0.3 -0​.5m ac​ross
to 1m high
0.3m across

​1-1.5m high
0.2 -0.5m across

1​-1.5m high
0.3 -0.6m across

1m high,
0.6m acros

* Images in table:
© 2003 Weed Management Guides, Lobed needle grassChilean needle grassSerrated tussock, C'wlth Dept of the Env't & Heritage.
© Chilean Needle Grass & Serrated Tussock Ligule photos: Harry Rose (Wikimedia).​

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