Perennial Veldtgrass

Ehrharta calycina Smith

Family: - Poaceae.


Perennial Veldtgrass.

Other names:

Perennial Veldt grass

South African Veldt grass


An erect, tufted perennial grass to 80 cm tall that sets large amounts of seed in loose reddish-purple seed heads held well above the leaves.





Emerging leaves rolled in the bud.

Blade - Pale green, parallel sided, straight, floppy, flat or rolled. 20-90 mm long by 2-6 mm wide, rough to touch. Wavy edges. Often purple near the base and crinkled along one edge near the base. Hairy or hairless.

Ligule - Membranous, flat on top and jagged. Often slightly flared and purple.

Auricles - large, sometimes with a few hairs on the edges, often purple.

Collar - often purple.

Sheath - Tight, split, keeled on the back. Hairless.


Slender, tufted, often branching. 300-800 mm high. Hairless or slightly hairy. 3-6 hairless nodes that are often pigmented or red.

Flower head:

Narrow but loose, erect to drooping, red-purple panicle, 70-220 mm long. Simple or with a few branches. Branches bent back, fine and wavy. Often not fully emerged from the leaf sheath. Branches tend to hang to one side.


Spikelets - Single, purplish, oblong, flattened, 4-8 mm long, stalked. 3 flowered.

Florets - 2 lower ones are hairy, sterile or empty. Upper one bisexual. Lowest one is bearded at the base, the next one has a short awn.

Glumes - Oblong, 7 ribs, thin, persistent, turn purple with age. Tip pointed or rounded. Outer one 5-6 mm long, inner one 4.5-5.5 mm long. Inner one paler than the outer one.

Palea - 3.5-4 mm long, translucent, narrow, keeled, 2 ribs close together. Hairless.

Lemma - Lemma of empty floret; hairy, lower lemma 4-4.5 mm long with a tapering tip, not ribbed, hairy, bearded at the base. Upper one, oblong, 5.5-6 mm long with a tapering tip or a short, smooth, sharp awn, 5 ribs, 2 appendages at the base, hairy but no beard at the base.

Lemma of bisexual floret - Oblong, 4-4.5 mm long, hairless or sparsely hairy, tip rounded.

Stamens -6 usually.

Anthers -

Breaks off above the glumes.



Brown, oval to tear shaped, flattened, 6 mm long by 1 mm wide. Enclosed in hairy husks with a 1mm long awn. Surface grooved

Sets large amounts of seed.


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

Key Characters:

Lemma of empty florets with long soft hairs. Spikelets less than 8 mm long. Perennial. Lemma of inner empty floret about 1 mm shorter than lemma of outer empty floret.


Life cycle:

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


Frost resistant.

Does not withstand heavy grazing.


By seed and perennial rhizomes.

Flowering times:

Mainly October to November in SA.

Spring in NSW.

Spring in WA.

March to April and August to September in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Seeds germinate freely but establishment is poor on hard setting soils.

Seed only appears to last in the soil for less than 3 years.

All the seed in Kings Park was in the top 50 mm of soil.

Vegetative Propagules:

Perennial rhizomes.


A number of ecotypes occur. Cultivar Mission is a non shedding form.


Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Produces large quantities of seed. Most spread is by deliberate introductions then slow dispersal to adjacent areas. It doesn't persist under grazing or on hard setting soils.

Origin and History:

South Africa.

Introduced to Australia around 1900.




Sandy soils.


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


Sandy soils.

Plant Associations:



Palatable fodder but can only be lightly grazed.

Used for stabilising sandy and drifting soils.


Weed of roadsides, bushland and disturbed areas.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:

Graze heavily and continually especially in spring.

It usually disappears with regular mowing or cultivation.

Apply high rates of grass selective herbicides any time from autumn to spring.


Dense stands can prevent recruitment of native species and seriously reduce crop yields.

It is a palatable pasture species.

Eradication strategies:

Kill the perennial plants control seedling for 3years.

Pasture land.

Graze heavily and continually.


Spray with glyphosate at 3 L/ha before planting crops. Spray broadleaf crops with 500 mL/ha Verdict520 when the grass has 3-6 leaves.


Spray with 800 mL/ha Verdict520 plus 1% oil in any time from autumn to spring and repeat annually or as required. In areas with native Geraniaceae, 3 L/ha Fusilade212 is preferred.

Regrowth of mature plants has been reported when grass selective herbicides are applied after seed formation in the Perennial Veldt Grass.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

None available

Related plants:

Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta) has very short (<5mm long), hairless spikelets.

Annual Veldtgrass (Ehrharta longifolia) is an annual with a only a basal tuft of hairs on the lemmas. Glumes much shorter than the 10-28 mm long spikelet

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:



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). P52-53. 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). #484.1.

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.

Moerkerk, M.R. and Barnett, A.G. (1998). More Crop Weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. P32. Diagrams. Photos.

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


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