Plants of
South Australia
Austrostipa stipoides
Coast Spear-grass,
Prickly Spear-grass
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Stipa teretifolia

Dichelachne stipoides

Stipa stipoides

Common names

Coast Spear-grass

Prickly 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. Stipoides means resembling the genus Stipa (now Austrostipa), possibly referring to when it was place under the genus Dichelachne by Hooker.

Distribution and status

Found in the southern Eyre Peninsula to the lower South East in South Australia, growing along the coast cliffs and dunes in shrubland. Also found in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and New Zealand. Native. Common in South Australia. Common in the other states.
Herbarium regions: Eyre Peninsula, Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Southern Lofty, Kangaroo Island, South Eastern
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Tufted perennial grass to 1.2 m high with erect unbranched culms and glabrous nodes, remaining concealed by sheaths. Leaves glabrous with blade closely inrolled, appearing terete, to 70 cm long and 1 mm diameter; sharp-pointed tip; ligule glabrous, to 10 mm long. Inflorescence a contracted panicle to 20 cm long, with more than 8 spikelets and straw-coloured subequal gumes to 20 mm long, Flowering between September and December.

Key to this species: lemma apex with long lobes (teeth) 1.5-3 mm; panicle with more than 8 spikelets; culm unbranched; leaves sharp-pointed; lemma hairs white to yellow; ligule long 3-10 mm. Fruits are brown linear-elliptic lemma to 13 mm long with a granular surface and covered in white to yellow hairs; long lobes at the apex to 3 mm long; coma obscure; callus long sharp to 2.5 mm long; awn twice bent scabrous to 40 mm long; palea subequal to lemma, with a line of hairs down the centre. Seeds are yellow-brown narrow-ellipsoid grain to 7 mm long within the lemma. Seed embryo type is lateral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between October and January. Use your hands to gently strip the seeds (lemma) off the mature fruiting spike, those that are turning yellowish-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

2,150 (8.33 g)
South Eastern
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.