Texas Needle Grass

(Nassella leucotricha)

Texas Needle Grass Source

Image: Texas needle grass, © RG & FJ Richardson, Australian Plant Image Index.​

What is Texas needle grass?   

  • Texas needle grass is a tussock forming perennial grass, which is highly invasive and can form dense infestations, particularly on poorly managed sites. It prefers open grassland sites similar to those favoured by native grassland species.

  • Texas needle grass is unpalatable, and can severely reduce the carrying capacity of pastures.

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

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

How to identify Texas needle grass

  • Texas needle grass is a perennial tussock-forming grass in the spear grass group (Tribe Stipeae). It grows to about 1-1.5 m high. The weed thrives under conditions of moderate soil disturbance and poses a threat to agriculture and native vegetation.  

  • The leaves of Texas needle grass are mid to dark green leaves up to 5mm wide and a ligule to 3mm long. Hairs along the leaf surface and a small tuft of hairs at the junction of the leaf blade and sheath are distinctive features. 

  • Texas needle grass produces 2 types of seeds, panicle (normal) and Cleistogene (stem and base). Cleistogene seeds form at the base of the tussock enabling reproduction even if flowering has been prevented by grazing or slashing. 

  • Flowering time is from October to February.

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

Texas Needle Grass
Image: Texas needle grass seed head, © RG & FJ Richardson, Australian Plant Image Index​.

Texas needle grass in Tasmania

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

What you need to do?

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

See also        

Texas Needle Grass Statutory Weed Management Plan
Weed Links and Resources

Other useful links

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 Lobed Needle Grass

Seed Chilean Needle Grass

Seed Serrated Tussock

​"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

Seed Ligule Lobed Needle Grass

Ligule Chilean Needle Grass
Ligule Serrated Tussock

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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