Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa multispiculis
Small-seed Spear-grass
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Austrostipa from the Latin 'auster' meaning south and the genus Stipa, referring to the genus being allied to Stipa but restricted to Australia. Multispiculis from the Latin 'multus' meaning many and 'spica' meaning projection (as in spikelets), referring to its inflorescence with many spikelets.

Distribution and status

Endemic to South Australia and found on the Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and the Mount Lofty Ranges growing on limestone loams and sandy loams in woodland and grassland. Native. Rare in South Australia.
Herbarium regions: Northern Lofty, Murray, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennial grass to 1 m high with short rhizome; culms dense, unbranched and with silky hairy nodes. Leaves sub-glabrous to scabrid below and above, loosely rolled or flat, to 70 cm long and 8 mm wide. Inflorescence a contracted, dense panicle to 40 cm long with hairy glumes, lower glumes longer than the upper. Flowering between October and November.

Key to this species: awn twice bent with coma; panicle dense contracted with short open branches; glumes narrow straight; callus 'long' but appears short; culm stout (1-4 mm); lower glume (8.5-10 mm); lemma short to 6 mm with dense white hairs; SA endemic Fruits are short, brown narrow-linear to linear-elliptic lemma to 6 mm long with a granular surface and covered in whitish hairs,;coma to 0.8 mm long; callus to 1.2 mm long but appear short, as covered by a tuft of dense white hairs; awn very short, twice bent, to 45 mm lo, with column scabrous or pubescent with hairs to 0.5 mm long. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow-ellipsoid grain within the lemma. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and January. Use your hands to gently strip the seeds (lemma) off the mature fruiting spike, those that are turning golden color. Mature seeds will come off easily compare to the immature seeds that remain on the spike. Alternatively, you can break off the whole fruit spike to allow some of the seeds to mature further. Place the seeds/spike in a tray and leave to dry for two weeks. No further cleaning is required if only seed collected. If seed spikes collected, use hand to strip off the mature seeds. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. Viability of grass seeds could be very viable, depending on time of seed collections and seasonal conditions. From two collections, the seed viability was average to high, ranging from 60% to 90%.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
1,500 (3.61 g)
1,500 (3.61 g)
Southern Lofty
19-Sep-200860%+5°C, -18°C
BGA8,000 (25.17 g)5014-Oct-2007RJB75385
Flinders Ranges
19-Sep-200890%+5°C, -18°C
Location: BGA — the seeds are stored at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, MSB — the seeds are stored at the Millennium Seed Bank, Kew, England.
Number of plants: This is the number of plants from which the seeds were collected.
Collection location: The Herbarium of South Australia's region name.
% Viability: Percentage of filled healthy seeds determined by a cut test or x-ray.