Grasses

Bob Myers interview – introduced vs native grasses for fuel-load and bushfire prevention

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Every summer in Australia, bushfires are a very serious matter that can claim lives, land and property. Having a fire safety and evacuation plan is essential in most parts of Australia. But what if we could control the fires before they have begun? We were privileged to have Bob Myers, founding president of the Native Grasses Resources Group in South Australia and native plant grower and breeder, visit us here at NativeSeeds and spend some of his time doing an interview for us. In this section of the interview, Bob explains how introduced grasses can contain up to 1300% more fuel load for bushfires than our beautiful Australian native grasses.

Windmill grass

Categories:

Chloris truncata

Distribution

Windmill grass grows in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, parts of Queensland and throughout New South Wales, except for the south coast.

Description

Windmill grass can be either annual or perennial and forms a rounded tussock usually less than 50 cm tall. The stems are smooth with 2–3 nodes towards the base which may form roots at the nodes. These nodes often give rise to roots enabling the plant to spread across the soil surface. The leaves are flat, without hairs and rough to the touch. They are up to 14 cm long and 2–5 mm wide. Flower heads have 6 to 9 spikes all spreading out from a common point forming an umbrella shape.

Habitat/Soil

Windmill grass is found on various soil types from sand to clay-loams. It has a wide range of tolerances from mildly acidic to alkaline soils.

Tolerances

  • High heat tolerance
  • High drought tolerance
  • Low frost tolerance

Sowing

Seed should be sown into a weed–free seed bed in early spring. It is preferable to lightly scratch or scarify the soil to create niches for the seed to lodge in. The seed should not be sown deep, but would be best broadcast over the surface then incorporated into the top 5mm of the surface by dragging over a set of harrows or similar equipment.

Uses

A valuable soil stabiliser. This grass is a useful fodder crop for other warm season perennial grasses as it establishes quickly with minimal rain needed. Windmill grass can produce valuable and palatable fodder when it is actively growing. Chloris truncata is suitable for turf as it is shorter than Chloris ventricosa with a maximum height of 30 cm. As it never grows very tall, this grass has low mowing requirements. This makes it useful for roadsides, easements and for passive recreation. It can also work well in horticulture for areas that need a summer active ground cover that will not grow very tall.

Weeping grass

Categories:

Microlaena stipoides

— Looking to buy Griffin Weeping grass? Click here to go straight to the product page! —

Varieties

  • Griffin
  • Ovens (LIG183)
  • Bremmer (LIG 704)
  • Burra
  • Tasman

Distribution

Weeping grass is an Australian native grass which is widely distributed throughout the damper zones of eastern Australia from Cape York to Tasmania. It is also found in the wetter districts of South Australia and in the south-west of Western Australia.

Description

Weeping Grass is a cool season tufted perennial grass which produces year round green growth. It spreads very slowly by short rhizomes under the soil. There are several different forms that vary in height. The seedheads are weeping and ripen from December to May in southern Australia. The seeds have awns up to 20 mm long that are rough and the seeds tend to cling together making them somewhat difficult to handle.

Habitat/Soil

Suited to a wide range of soil types with a pH of less than 6.0, Weeping grass survives well in strongly acidic soils. Some types have a broad range of pH adaptation including alkaline soil, but most prefer acidic soils.

Tolerances

  • High frost tolerance
  • High drought tolerance
  • Medium salt tolerance
  • Shade tolerant

Sowing

Begin with a weed free seed bed. Sow seed 10-15 mm below the soil surface. Germination may take from 10-14 days in spring or summer or considerably longer in cooler conditions.

Sowing rate: 1kg/100m² for turf 5-10 kg/ha for revegetation and pasture.

Uses

This is an extremely versatile and useful grass with a wide range of applications. Because of its attractive appearance, its persistence and high grazing value, as well as its tolerance of shade and acid soils, this grass has a wide range of uses. It is suitable for use on roadsides, municipal parks and gardens requiring little maintenance, domestic lawns, golf course roughs, pastures in acid soils of moderate to high rainfall, revegetation in conjuction with other native grasses and river and stream edges to reduce erosion.

Griffin

Griffin Weeping grass is ideal for a high quality lawn and for passive recreation. Once established, it has low maintenance needs and requires minimal watering. It grows in shade. This variety was developed by the University of New England specifically for lawns.

weeping-grass-lawn

Weeping grass var. Griffin – Nelson approves!

Ovens (LIG183)

Ovens Weeping grass was selected from a grass population that originated in the wheat / sheep zone near the NSW Victorian border and has considerable heat and drought tolerance. It is a larger plant which produces considerable dry matter of high grazing quality. It is the fastest germinating and establishing variety of those Native Seeds is producing. It was developed by the NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC) through research funded by DLWC and the Meat and Livestock Association, the Land and Water Resources Research and Development Corporation, and the Victorian Department of Natural Resources and the Environment.

weeping-grass-lawn-full-height get get1 get2

Bremmer (LIG 704)

This grass was also developed in the LIGULE program that gave rise to the Ovens variety. It was selected from a grass population that originated in the medium rainfall zone where grazing is the principal activity. It is an upright plant with medium textured leaves and a strong tolerance to acid soil conditions. It is more stout than Ovens and a very good complement to it when sown together.

Burra

Burra Weeping grass is a useful all round grass. It is deep green in colour, is tolerant of highly acid soils and has a high drought tolerance. It can be used for lawns or for revegetation.

Buy Burra Weeping Grass seed

Tasman

This variety was bred by Native Seeds especially for the turf and amenity market in the cooler climates of Australia. It is a deep green colour, finely textured and has dense foliage. When fully established, it is very hardy and can withstand hot, dry conditions. Native Seeds expects to have seed of this variety available from 2006.