Plants of
South Australia
Aristida holathera var. holathera
Kerosene Grass,
Tall Kerosene Grass,
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 3

Prior names

Aristida stipoides

Aristida muelleri

Aristida browniana

Common names

Kerosene Grass

Tall Kerosene Grass



Aristida from the Latin 'arista' meaning awned, alluding to the awned lemma. Holathera from the Greek 'holo' meaning entire and 'ather' meaning spike, referring to how the awn separates from the lemma at maturity.

Distribution and status

Found scattered across South Australia except for the Eyre Peninsula, York Peninsula, South-east and Kangaroo Island, growing on stabilised dunes and sandy rises. Also found in all mainland states. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in Victoria. Common in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennial grass to 130 cm tall, with leaf blades convolute, glabrous or slightly scabrous, rigid to 21 cm long, closely inrolled. Inflorescence a slender panicle or raceme, to 20 cm long; glumes unequal, narrow-acuminate, the lower to 14 mm long, usually notched at the apex with the nerve continuing beyond the notch as a short awn, the upper to 28 mm long, awnless; lemma convolute, narrow-cylindric, to 15 mm long, glabrous except for short, white callus hairs, surface pale, smooth; column of awn to 40 mm long, articulate on lemma, awn branches purplish only when very young, subequal, to 60 mm long. Flowering possible all year depending on rain. Fruits are pale brown with three unequal awns as long as the base. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds following rain events. Use hands to gently strip seeds off the mature seed spike that are turning straw colour. Mature seeds will come off easily. Alternatively, you can break off the whole seed spike. 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. Seed viability can be low.