Annual Veldtgrass

Ehrharta longiflora Smith

Family: Poaceae.

Names:

Annual Veldtgrass.

Other names:

Annual Veldt grass
South African Veldt grass

Summary:

Annual Veldtgrass is an erect, vigorous, tufted annual grass and commonly 50-80 cm tall. The leaf blades have dark stem-clasping bases and a membranous tongue (ligule) between the blade and sheath. The purplish green inflorescence is fairly loose with large drooping spikelets. Each spikelet is 1-3 cm long with 3 florets, but only the upper one is fertile. The outer segment (lemma) of the sterile florets is tapered to a bristle up to 12 mm long. It sets large amounts of seed.
Native to South Africa, it is now a widespread and common weed particularly of coastal areas and creek lines. It flowers in winter, spring and summer.

Description:

Cotyledons:

One

Leaves:

Emerging leaf rolled in the bud.
Blade - Dark green, parallel sided, straight, floppy, flat. 80-150 mm long x 4-11 mm wide, rough to touch. Clasping base with a few hairs. Wavy edges especially along one side near the base. Often purple near the base. Softly hairy or hairless.
Ligule - Membranous, flat on top and jagged, 1-2 mm long.
Auricles - Wavy, often purple, short.
Sheaths - Loose. Hairless.

Stems:

Slender, tufted, smooth, erect or ascending 300-1200 mm high. Hairless. 4-6 hairless, often purple nodes. Often kneed at the lower nodes.

Flower head:

Narrow but loose, erect to drooping, red-purple or green panicle, 70-200 mm long. Usually branched. Branches bent back, fine, rough to touch and wavy. Often not fully emerged from the leaf sheath. Branches tend to hang to one side.

Flowers:

Spikelets - Single, purplish, oblong, flattened, 10-25 mm long, stalked. 3 flowered.
Florets - 2 lower ones are rough, sterile or empty. Upper one bisexual, shorter.
Glumes - Oblong, thin, persistent, Less than half the length of the spikelets, tiny hairs. Often turn purple with age. Tip pointed.
Lower one 2-4.5 mm long, 5 ribbed, often purplish.
Upper one 2-6 mm long, 7 ribbed.
Palea - 4-6 mm long, translucent, narrow, keeled. Hairless.
Lemma - Lemmas of empty floret, appear hairless.
Lower lemma oblong, rough, 10-22 mm long, tiny beard with two tufts of hairs on the back at the base and a toothed tip with a rough point or a short straight, terminal awn. Often corrugated near the base.
Upper one, oblong, rough, keeled, 11-21 mm long and a toothed tip with a rough point or a short straight, terminal awn. Often corrugated near the base.
Lemma of bisexual floret - Oblong, 4-7 mm long, acute tip, 7-ribbed.
Stamens -6 usually.
Anthers - Yellow.
Breaks off above the glumes.

Fruit:

Seeds:

Elliptical, flattened. Sets large amounts of seed.

Roots:

Often with a creeping branched rhizome. Easily pulled up by stock.

Key Characters:

Annual. Lemma of empty floret hairless with tiny tufts of hairs (often inconspicuous) at the base

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial. Winter growing with rapid growth after spring, summer and autumn rains. Flowers August to November or March to April.

Physiology:

Does not withstand heavy grazing.

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

August to November in SA.
Spring in NSW.
Spring in WA.
July to November in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seeds germinate freely but establishment is poor on hard setting soils.
Seed only appear to last in the soil for 3 years.

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

A number of ecotypes occur.

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Produces large quantities of seed. Spread in water flows and produce. It doesn't persist under grazing or on hard setting soils.

Origin and History:

South Africa.

Distribution:

NSW, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Sandy soils.

Climate:

In areas with an annual rainfall of more than 500 mm.

Soil:

Sandy soils.

Plant Associations:

River Red Gum.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Palatable fodder.
Used for stabilising sandy and drifting soils.
Ornamental used in dried flower arrangements.

Detrimental:

Weed of roadsides, coastal islands, sandy dunes, stream beds and banks, bushland, gardens and disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Grazing, mowing or Spray Topping in spring to prevent seed set will reduce infestations. Most broad spectrum grass selective herbicides provide good control of vegetative plants. Pasture Manipulation with paraquat plus simazine is effective in clover based pastures. Cultivation some weeks after the break will also provide reasonable levels of control.

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for 3 years by grazing heavily and continually, mowing regularly, cultivating, hand weeding or using herbicides.
In bushland situations, 1 L/ha quizalofop(100g/L) or 1.6 L/ha Fusilade®Forte or 200 mL/ha Verdict®520 plus 1% spray oil, applied in winter, provides good control with little damage to broad-leaved species. For hand spraying, use 20 mL quizalofop(100g/L) or 32 mL Fusilade®Forte or 4 mL Verdict®520 plus 100 mL spray oil in 10 L water and spray until just wet. In non-selective situations, 40 mL glyphosate(450g/L) in 10 L water applied in winter or spring, up to flowering, provides good control. Repeat annually.
Spray-topping with 400 mL/ha glyphosate(450g/L) in spring when the Veldt Grass is flowering can provide selective control in roadside vegetation.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

None available

Related plants:

Perennial Veldtgrass (Ehrharta calycina) is usually perennial with much shorter spikelets and soft hairs on the lemmas. The glumes are almost as long as the 4-8 mm long spikelet.
Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta) has very short (<5 mm long), hairless spikelets.
Pyp grass (Ehrharta villosa) tends to be on beaches or dunes where it has been planted for rehabilitation. It has much longer and tougher stems carrying longer 12-15 mm spikelets on stalks (pedicels) at least a quarter the length of the spikelet. It also has a rhizomatous root system
See diagrams for relative spikelet characters.

Plants of similar appearance:

Grasses.

References:

Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P98. Diagram.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P91.

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (1997). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia). P54-55. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #484.3.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P958.

Paterson, J.G. (1977). Grasses in South Western Australia. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture Bulletin 4007). P48. Diagram.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.