Plants of
South Australia
Themeda triandra
Kangaroo 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: 7

Prior names

Themeda australis

Anthistiria ciliata

Anthistiria australis

Common names

Kangaroo Grass



Themeda from the Arabic 'thaemed' meaning little water (or refers to a depression in which water lies after rain and dries in summer); possibly referring to the water storage cells on the upper surface of the leaves or to the habitat in Yemen where the type specimen for Themeda was collected. Triandra from the Greek 'treis' meaning three and 'andros' meaning man; referring to a stemless hermaphrodite spikelet which is surrounded by three male spikelets.

Distribution and status

Found across South Australia, except in the south-western part, growing in grassland and open woodland communities. Also found in all Australian states, Asia, Africa and the Pacific region. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, Alinytjara Wilurara, Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Northern and Yorke, South Australian Arid Lands, South Australian Murray-Darling Basin, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

A densely tufted, leafy perennial grass to 1 m tall with sharply keeled leaves and large spikelets, often blue green when actively growing and reddish at maturity. Flowers throughout the year but mainly between October and March. Fruits are reddish-brown loose, interrupted, often drooping panicle to 250 mm long. Seeds are dark brown, shiny seed to 10 mm long and 1 mm wide (excluding the awn) with a sharp base and collar of hairs. Contain a long narrow yellow ovoid grain. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between December and May. Use your hands to gently strip seeds off the mature seed spike that are drying off and turning brown or 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 for this species especially if seeds are harvested before they are ripe. Viable seeds will germinate without any treatment, 100% viable seeds were selected using an x-ray image and 90% germinated within 11 weeks at spring temperatures.

Germination table: