Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa puberula
Hairy Spear-grass,
Fine-hairy Spear-grass
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 5

Prior names

Stipa arachnopus

Stipa puberla

Stipa puberula

Common names

Hairy Spear-grass

Fine-hairy 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. Puberula from the Latin 'puber', meaning downy and the diminutive 'ula' meaning slightly, referring to the plant which is wholly or partly covered with short hairs.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern part of South Australia, from the Nullarbor to the upper South-east, growing in a variety of habitats and soil types. Also found in Western Australia, New South Wales and Victoria. Native. Common in South Australia. Rare in New South Wales and Victoria. Common in Western Australia.
Herbarium regions: Nullarbor, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennia grass to 80 cm high, with erect unbranched culms and pubescent nodes. Leaves pubescent with erect long and short hairs; blade inrolled to 40 cm long and 2 mm wide. Inflorescence a dense panicle, at first becoming lax and sparse to 30 cm long, with green to slightly purplish glumes to 14 mm long, the lower 1-3 mm longer than upper. Flowering between September and December.

Key to this species: awn twice bent with coma; panicle contracted with short open branches; glumes narrow straight; callus long fine straight; lower glume 8-14 mm; lemma with apricot hairs and short hairs at apex, appearing shorn; column scabrous; leaves pubescent. Fruits are brown linear-elliptical lemma 6.5 mm long with a smooth surface covered in apricot colour hairs and a sparse hair hair patch at the apex, appearing shorn; coma to 0.7 mm; callus appears 'short-hooked' to 1.5 mm long; awn twice bent to 65 mm long, with column scabrous. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow ovoid grain to 4 mm long 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 apricot colour. 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.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage
16,000 (51.07 g)
16,000 (51.07 g)
Northern Lofty
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.