Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa vickeryana
Gramineae
Vickery's Spear-grass
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Etymology

Austrostipa from the Latin 'auster' meaning south and the genus Stipa, referring to the genus being allied to Stipa but restricted to Australia. Vickeryana name after Joyce Vickery (1908-1979), a New South Wales botanist and conservationist who specialised in grass taxonomy.

Distribution and status

Found scattered in the central part of South Australia, growing on sand associated with limestone and gypsum in inland saline areas. Native. Rare in South Australia. Rare in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Eyre Peninsula
NRM regions: Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, South Australian Arid Lands
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted annual or perennial grass to 0.5 m high, with erect unbranched culms and glabrous or pubescent nodes. Leaves glabrous or pubescent with blades flat, folded or loosely rolled to 18 mm long and 4 mm wide; ligule to 13 mm. Inflorescence a contracted but sparse panicle to 20 cm long with lower glume to 18 mm long. Flowering between June to October.

Key to this species: awn twice bent with coma; panicle contracted with short open branches; glumes narrow straight; callus long fine straight; awn 90-125 mm long; lemma 6.5-9 mm; smooth shining, glabrous or with sparse golden hairs; lemma apex scabrous Fruits are dark- brown linear-elliptic lemma to 9 mm long, with a smooth surface except scabrous at the apex and glabrous or sparsely covered in golden hairs; coma long to 1.5 mm; callus long straight sharp to 3 mm; awn twice bent to 125 mm long and column to 32 mm long, with pubescent hairs. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow-ellipsoid grain to 3.5 mm long within the lemma. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between August and November. Use your hands to gently strip the seeds (lemma) off the mature fruiting spike, those that are turning brown. 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 variable, depending on time of seed collections and seasonal conditions.