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Curly Windmill grass is found widely through the dry, inland regions of Australia. It occurs regularly in both the arid tropical and arid temperature zones of all mainland states. It occurs now only as remnants, but may have once been a dominant grass throughout these areas.
Curly Windmill grass resembles the common Windmill grass of the Chloris genus (especially Chloris truncata) and has a typical windmill form of seedhead. It can be seperated from the Chloris species by the arms of the flower heads radiating from a central point in all directions and forming a sphere. The arms of the Chloris species tend to radiate in one plane forming an umbrella shape. A further distinguishing feature is the curly nature of the old leaves which dry off to form a corkscrew or ‘pigtail’ and give the grass its name. Seedheads are usually to 0.5m high and foliage is commonly around 0.25m high unless grazed. Seedheads are formed over the summer period in southern Australia and especially in response to rainfall. In northern Australia the seedheads form over several months, but this is related to summer rainfall events. Seedheads of this grass often fall off and form a ball which can be rolled along by the wind. Often large masses of seedheads accumulate along fence lines or buildings.
Curly Windmill grass is suited to soils that are mildly acid to alkaline and usually of high clay content. It has often been found on saline soils.
- Very high drought tolerance
- Very high heat tolerance
- Flood tolerant
- Frost tolerant but will go into winter dormancy
- High salt tolerance
Seedlings are moderately vigorous and prefer to be sown into weed-free conditions. Seed should be sown either on the surface or just below surface level. The seed is quite small and should not be buried too deep. Germination under warm and wet conditions can be from seven to ten days, but will be longer if conditions are cool or moisture ceases. Sowing rate: 1 to 2kg/ha for revegetation and pasture.
Curly Windmill grass is high quality forage under low input systems. It is highly palatable and can be easily grazed out of set stocked pastures. Rotational grazing is the preferred management technique. This grass can be used under horticultural applications of vines or tree fruits in the more arid areas as it is capable of surviving under very low rainfall conditions.
It does not produce excess foliage and will persist over many years if not mowed to regularly. Curly Windmill grass has reasonably good salt tolerance and can be used in areas subject to dryland salinity. Curly Windmill grass produces attractive upright seedheads over the summer period and can be used for landscape applications such as golf course roughs where low maintenance is desired. If mowed, this grass can form an adequate surface for passive recreation.