Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa pubinodis
Tall Spear-grass,
Long-shaft 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: 9

Prior names

Stipa pubescens

Stipa pubinodis

Common names

Tall Spear-grass

Long-shaft 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. Pubinodis from the Latin 'puber' meaning downy and 'nodus' meaning node, referring to the its pubescent nodes.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the lower South-east in South Australia, growing in damp places in areas with high rainfall, in woodland, grassland and coastal heathland. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Native. Uncommon in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Murray, Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennial grass to 1 m high, with short rhizome; unbranched culms and pubescent nodes. Leaves usually glabrous or sometimes pubescent with blade inrolled to 30 cm long and 1 mm diameter. Inflorescence an open or loose panicle to 25 cm long, often appearing one-sided, with strongly ridged, broad obtuse and membranous, purple or green glumes to 29 mm long. Flowering between October and January.

Key to this species: awn twice bent with no coma (no hairs around the lemma apex); lemma pale-brown (10-13 mm) with a granular surface and white hairs only on the lower half; hairless on the upper half; glumes strongly-ridged, broad obtuse and membranous, >17 mm; column long 25-50 mm; panicle sparse, 1 sided. Fruits are pale-brown linear-ellipsoid lemma to 13 mm long, with granular surface and covered in white hairs on only the lower half; no coma; callus long sharp and straight to 3.5 mm long; awn twice bent to 95 mm long, with short bristle and long smooth and scabrous column to 60 mm long; palea glabrous about equal to lemma. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow-ellipsoid grain to 5 mm long within the lemma. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between November and March. 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.

Seeds stored:
LocationNo. of seeds
(weight grams)
of plants
Collection number
Collection location
% ViabilityStorage

1,100 (11.13 g)
Southern 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.
Germination table: