Coolatai Grass

Hyparrhenia hirta

Family: Poaceae

Type of weed:

Flowering Months: , , , ,

Description

Coolatai grass is a tufted perennial, forming clumps to 1.5 m tall with tough, dense bases sprouting from rhizomes (root masses).

The leaves are a greyish-green colour turning orangey-red in winter, particularly after frost.

The flowerhead is long and much branched with grey-white, hairy flowers along a stalk. Coolatai grass mainly grows and flowers during late spring to autumn, depending on adequate moisture being available. It grows rapidly after summer rains and if the winter is relatively mild the plant may be green all year.

Plants may produce seed in their first growth season but it is produced over an extended period and shed as it matures.

Alert:

Coolatai grass can be confused with Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis), Barbed-Wire Grass (Cymbopogon refractus) and some native spear grasses.

Dispersal

The tiny seeds are spread by the wind, by adhering to clothing, animals, vehicles and tools, especially when wet. Human activities such as slashing or traffic assist in spreading the weed, especially along roadsides. It spreads along drainage lines, indicating that water can also transport seeds.

Impact on bushland

Coolati Grass forms clumps that cause displacement of native plants. It also replaces vegetation along drainage lines.

Distribution

, . Blackheath, Woodford, Linden, Faulconbridge and Hazelbrook (incursions are occurring in new areas).

Alternative planting

Native plants

  • Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis)
  • Barbed-Wire Grass (Cymbopogon refractus)

Council provides a tool, on its Mountain Landscapes website, to help you choose native alternative plantings. Choose your village, soil, vegetation community and the purpose of your planting, and the tool will give you suggestions.

There are native nurseries in several Blue Mountains villages, including Glenbrook, Lawson and Katoomba. Please also ask at your favourite local nursery.

Control

For small infestations, single plants and small patches can be controlled by hand removal, by cutting through the fibrous roots (crowning). Use a knife in a circular action just below the crown. Physical removal is the preferred method as it is difficult to identify when seed production commences and because the plant is found in small infestations.

Spot spray with herbicide. Larger areas can be treated with a selective herbicide registered for use on the specific grass weed.

All flowering and seeding material should be bagged and disposed of appropriately.

Follow-up is required.

For more info

For key points on these techniques: