Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa flavescens
Coast Spear-grass
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
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Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 24

Prior names

Stipa scabra var. barbata

Stipa hirsuta

Stipa variabilis var. striata

Stipa tenuiglumis

Stipa scabra var. striata

Stipa scabra var. elatior

Stipa pubescens var. maritima

Stipa elatior

Stipa compacta

Stipa aphanoneura

Stipa flavescens

Common names

Coast Spear-grass


Austrostipa from the Latin 'auster' meaning south and the genus Stipa, referring to the genus being allied to Stipa but restricted to Australia. Flavescens from the Latin 'flavus' meaning yellow and '-escens' meaning becoming, referring to its spikelets having yellowish hairs.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, growing in a wide range of habitats on sandy to loamy soils. Also found in Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Flinders Ranges, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennial grass to 1.2 m high with short rhizome; erect culms and pubescent to almost glabrous nodes. Leaves glabrous to densely pubescent with blade flat to inrolled to 700 mm long and 7 mm wide when flattened. Inflorescence a dense, slender panicle to 30 cm long, with glumes to 15 mm long, lower equal or longer by up to 3 mm than upper. Flowering between September and January.

Key to this species: awn twice bent with coma; panicle contracted with short open branches; glumes narrow straight; callus long fine straight (1.6 to 3mm); culm stout (1-4 mm). Fruits are dark-brown to black lemma to 9 mm long with a granular surface texture covered with semi-appressed golden hairs; coma obscure with hairs less than 1.5 mm; callus long straight to 3 mm long; awn twice bent to 70 mm long; column shortly pubescent,;palea slightly shorter than lemma, with silky-hair along the centre line. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow-ovoid grain to 5 mm long within the lemma. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and February. Use your hands to gently strip the seeds (lemma) off the mature fruiting spike, those that are turning golden. 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.