T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Pennisetum macrourum (African feather grass)

Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Panicoideae
Tribes: Paniceae
Genus: Pennisetum
Species: P. macrourum
Binominal name: Pennisetum macrourum
Common name: African feather grass, Veld Grass

Pennisetum macrourum is a tender perennial grass that is native to southern Africa, tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen). It has been introduced in various other parts of the world as an ornamental grass but due to it being a prolific seeder and having a vigorous creeping rhizome system (<2m long) it is become a noxious weed in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. It can be a major weed of pastures, roadsides, dunelands, swamps and stream banks. It is spread by seeds clinging to clothing and the wool & hair of animals. Seeds are also spread by water and wind. The fine hairs on stems will break off when touched and can cause skin irritations.

Pennisetum macrourum is a rapid-growing, robust, deciduous, clump-forming perennial grass <2m high. It has mid green, upright, arching leaves which are linear with entire margins and are up to 1.2m long and 12mm wide. Its leaves turn yellow in autumn. 
In late summer and early autumn long, slender, cylindrical, light green flower spikelets (>30cm long) develop. Flowers turn straw coloured as they mature. The flower spikelets are surrounded by finely-barbed feathery bristles.





The fine hairs on the stem.


The flower head.


The flower spikelets surrounded by finely-barbed feathery bristles.