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A manual of the grasses of New South Wales online

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it was accumulated by the natives to allure birds, or by rats, as their
holes were seen beneath, we were puzzled to detennine. The grass
was beautifully green beneath the heaps, and full of seeds, ana our
cattle were very fond of this hay.'^

Mr. E. Palmer, in describing the food-stuffs of the Cloncurry
(Queensland) aborigines, thus refers to this grass: — '^Has a fine
yellow seed like lucerne seed, which is gathered when the seed is just
opened from the sheath. It is winnowed and ground between two
stones, mixed with water into a kind of paste or thick gruel, and
poured into the hot ashes, making a sort of damp bread, very nourish-
ing and satisfying."

Habitat and range, — A moisture-gloving species, found in all the
colonies except Tasmania. It is diffused throughout the Colony, hrtt
is most plentiful in the west^m districts. It has been doubtfully
recorded also from Asia.

58. Panicum tnchyrhaciiis, Bentli.

Botanical name. — Trachyrhachis, from two Greek words — trachys,
rough or harsh, and rhachis, the backbone (as applied to animals),
the rha^chis (in botany) or axis supporting a flowering stem. In this
grass the rhachis is rough, and so are the brandies and the panicle.

Vernacular name. — " Oo-kin *' of the aborigines of the Mitchell
River, Northern Queensland.

Where figured. — Agricultural Gazette.

Digitized by


Panieum traehyrhaehis, Benth.

Digitized by


Digitized by



Botcmical description (B. Fl., vii, 490) .—A taH^ erect, etotit, glabrous
^Iflait^ nearly allied to F. decompcmtum.

Xeaves'long and narrow.

Ligtda Fedooed to a ring of cilia, the nodes glabrous.

Panide large and loose, often 1 to 1} feet long, vitfa nnmerous long slender divided

branohes, the low^ ones usually yertidllftte, scabrous as well as the rhcuohie,^
Spikelets all pedicellate, neasly li lines long.
Outer glume often as long a& the others, three or five-nenred, tapering into a long

point sometimes ciliate at the end.
Second and third glumes nearly equal, acutely acuminate, seven or nine^nerved, the

third with a palea often nearly as long, but no stamens in any of the sfMSciBMSKB

Fruiting glume much shorter, obtuse, smooth, and shining.

Var., tenuior. — More slender, panicle not so large, and less scabrous,
and the glumes less acute (the form found in this Colony).

Valiie as a fodder, — ^A coarser plant than P. decompositum^ which,
however, it resembles in value for grazing purposes.

Other uses, — " The fibre is peeled from the under surface of the
leaf, by breaking it in the middle across with a sudden jerk while
]ield between the fingers, and drawing the threads away. They are
twisted up at once into twine by the Cloncurry (Queensland) natives.,
(E. Palmer.)

The aborigines sometimes used the grain for food.

Habitat and range, — Found in this Colony, and also Queensland
and Northern Australia. With us it has only been found in the north-
west of the Colony, but in iiie other colonies in the Coast districts.

Reference to Plate.^ — A, Portion of a panicle, note the pedicellate spikelets; B,
Spikelet, showing relative size of outer glume; c, Spikelet dissected, showing outer
glume, 2nd, and 3rd glume(; d. Fruiting glume and its palea.

54. Fanicmn prolutum, T.v.M.

Botanical name, — Prolutum — ^Latin for -soaked or drenched, the-
grass being usually found in damp situations.
Where figured, — Agricultural Gazette,
Botanical description (B. Fl., vii., 490).. —

Stems from a branching base erect, rigid, 1 to '2 feet high.

Leaves rather rigid, the margins involute when dry, glabrous and glaucous.

Ligvla very prominent, scarious, truncate, or slightly jagged.

Panide 3 to 6 inches long, of numerous slender divided branches, the lower ones

clustered, erect, and enclosed at the base by the last sheath, or at length exserted

and spreading.
Spikdets on filiform pedicels, ovoid, acute, glabrous, about IJt lines lozig.
Empty glumes rather rigid, prominently nerved, the outer one obtuse, with scarious

margins, more than half the length of the spikelet, three or five nerved, the

mecmd aml^hird nearly equal, acute, five or aeven nerved, no palea in the third.
Truiting p^ume emooth and shining.

Botanical note, — Readily distinguished from all other members of
the group by the much longer, non-ciliate ligule.

Vakae as a fodder, — Possessing much the same properties, and of
much the same Talue as P. decomposittmi, and, like that grass, one tjf
the most valuable of our interior species.

Digitized by



Other uses, — In f o;rmer years, tlie seeds of this grass were gathered
in large quantities by the aborigines as an article of food, and being
ground between two stones, were converted into a kind of meal.

Habitat and range, — Found in all the colonies except Tasmania and
Western Australia, in the interior.

O'Shariesy speaks in the following words of a Queensland grass,
probably allied to the last few species : — ^^ Also from the seeds of a tall
grass (evidently a Panicum), known by the aborigines as 'Pawpa,*
which is treated in a similar manner to the yellow-box seeds. Hats
are made from the stem of this grass simply by sewing them together.'*


Spikelets with one terminal hermaphrodite flower and a rudimentary
one below it, awned, clustered along the secund distant branches of a
simple panicle.

Glumes four, the lowest empty one not much shorter than the others,
and with a longer awn, the flowering glume awnless and hardened with
the palea round the grain as in Fanicum.

Lower branches of the panicle i to 2 inches long ... 1. 0. composittis.

All the branches of the panicle reduced to sessile clusters ... 2. O. setarius.

1. Oplismenus compositus, Beauv.

Botanical name, — Oplismenus, from the Greek, opleei armed (verb
oplizo), perhaps in allusion to the slender but prominent awns;
compositus, Latin, composite or set together, the inflorescence being
much more composite than 0, setarius, and perhaps than all other
species of Oplismenus,

Where figured, — Trinius, Agricultural Gazette,

Botanical description (B. FL, vii., 491). — Usually a weak grass, softly
pubescent or villous, but sometimes nearly glabrous.

Stems decumbent or creeping and rooting at the base, ascending sometimes to abore

1 foot.
Leaves from linear-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, 4 to 5 inches long in the larger

specimens, but more frequently under 2 inches.
Panicle slender, consisting of four to eight or rarely more distant one-sided branches

or spikes, of which the lowest slender ones are 2 inches long in the most

luxuriant specimens, scarcely J inch long in others, the upper ones or sometimes

the greater number reduced to short clusters.
Spikelets glabrous, pubescent, or hirsute, rather above 1 line long, in distinct

clusters of two or three each along the longer branches, crowded on the shorter

Glumes, three lower ones membranous, five-nerved, the lowest not much shorter than

the others,- tapering into a rather long smooth awn ; the second with a small point

or short awn, or only acuminate ; the third rather larger, awnless, with a smaU

hyaline palea or rudimentary flower in its axil.
Flowering glume nerveless, smooth, and hard, as well as the palea round the grain.

Value as a fodder. — ^Affords a bite for stock, but it is so closely
appressed to the ground that they do not often touch it ; it may also
not be palatable.

Digitized by



Other uses. — ^It forms a dense turf under trees, possessing a con-
siderable value for such a purpose in cases where it can get sufficient
moisture. It is a common weed in bush-houses.

Habitat and range. — Victoria to Queensland, in the moister parts.
In our Colony, confined to the Coast districts. Found also in Asia and
the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand.

2. Oplismenus setarius, Roem. et Schult.

Botanical name. — Setarius — Latin, seta, a bristle, resembling Setaria
(the next genus).

Synonyms. — 0. compositus, var. setarius, according to Mueller,
Panicum imhecille, Trin.

Vernacular name. — " Creeping Beard-grass."

Where figured. — Trinius and Buchanan, as Panicum imbecille.

Botanical description (B. Fl., vii., 492). —

Very near the slender forms of 0. compositm, and perhaps rightly included in that

species by F. Mueller.
Spikes or branches of the panicle all reduced to single sessile clusters of spikelets, or

the lowest rarely slightly elongated into two distinct clusters.
Leaves always narrow lanceolate.

Value as a fodder. — Same as the preceding. Lamson-Scribner
speaks of it as having no recognised agricultural value. Buchanan
states that cattle eat it readily, but points out that their relish for it
must be considerably lessened by the large amount of foreign matter,
such as dead leaves, with which it is usually associated.

Other uses. — This grass also grows under the dense shade of trees,
and hence is very valuable for planting in such situations. It is,
therefore, of use for ornamental purposes, but it must have moisture.
" It can be propagated by pieces of the stem, which root at the joints,
and if cared for, will in a short time make a good turf. A closely-
allied grass of similar habit and growth, with variegated leaves
(0. Burmanni, Beauv.), is often grown in green-houses for its orna-
mental appearance." (Lamson-Scribner.)

Habitat and range. — Same as the preceding species.


Spikelets with one terminal hermaphrodite flower and sometimes a
second male one below it, crowded in a cylindrical dense or rarely
interrupted spikelike panicle, not awned, but surrounded by numerous
awnlike barren branches, persistent on the main rhachis, the spikelets
sessile near the base of the branches, and falling away from them.

Glumes four, the outer one small, the second usually shorter than
the third ; a palea, and sometimes three stamens in the axil of the

Terminal or fruiting glume of a firmer consistence, transversely
rugose, with a perfect flower.

Styles distinct.

Digitized by



Grain enclosed in the hardened glume and palea, but free from them.

Awnlike paniele-branckes^ scabrous^ with erect teeth.

Panicle cylindrical, simple, 1 to 1} iQcheslbng, the spikelets aoliisry

at the base of the awnlike branches I, S, gfauca.

Pamiele dense or interrupted, 3 to 8 inches long, the spikelets

clustered near the base of the awnlike branches ... 2. A macrogkuihya.

1. Setaria glaxica, Beaxnr.*

Botanical na*me, — Setaria, from the Latin seta, a bristle, referring
to the awn-like, barren branches of the panicle ; glauca, Latin, grey-
er blue, or sea-green. In botany, glaucous, i,e,, a whitish, waxy-
green, like the green of a cabbage-leaf.

Vernacular names.— '^ Pigeon-grass," " Yellow Foxtail/' ^^ Botde-
glass Foxtail " of tlie United States.

Wh^re figured. — Trinius, Vasey, Hackel, Agricultural Gazette.

Botam/ical deaeriptum (B. Fl.,. vii, 492). — An erect annual of a pale
green, 1 to 2 feet high.

Leaves flat, with scabrous edges, and often ciliate, with a few long hairs.

Spikelike panicle, simple, cylindrical, 1 to 1 J inches long, the spikelets solitary at the
base of numerous awn-like branches, many of which aire barren, and all seab-
roos, with minute teeth directed upwards.

Spikelets ovoid, ahoat li lines long.

Outer glvme very small, the second not quite so long as the third ; a paiem and
very rarely stamens in the third.

Fruiting glume more or less gibbous, marked with prominent transverse wrinkles.

Value a9 a fodder — ^It is a weed of gardens, orchards, Ac, in msmy
parts of the Colony,, preferring low-lying situations where the ground
has been newly broken up and is moist. It is of a spreading habit,
green and succulent, and yields a fair quantity of fodder, which stock
eat readily enough. It comes up in the summer months and die*
down: with the cold weather. Vasey says that it m yery common in
cultivated fields in the United States, especially amongst stubble after
the cutting of grain. It ia as nutritious as 8. itaUca, but not so pro-

Duthie states that it is generally considered to be a fairly good
fodder-grass in India, quoting Symonds, who says that it affords a
moderately good fodder, but that it is unsuited for making hay. In
the central provinces of India it is used as fodder.

Other U9es* — ^Tbe grain is used as food in the central provinces
©f India. (Duthie.)

Habitat and ra-jigr^*— Where truly indigenous, us-ually met with along
river banks, Ac.,, where the soil is rich. Found in all the Colonies
eaeeept Tasmania. In this Colony it occurs in most distriists. It k a
eosmopolitan species.

* Sometimes this author's name is given in the contracted form as Palxsot. His full
name is A. M. F. J. Palisot de Beauvois, and he is the author of an important work on
grasses published at Paris in 1812.

Digitized by



2. Setaria macrostachya, H. B. & K.

Botanical name, — Macrostachya, from two Greek words-— 4»acro*
long, and stachys an ear. of corn, in aUiisiou to the comparatirely
large> spike-like panicles.

Vernacular name, — " Barley Grasa.^* (I have givea the. name
^ Barley Grass ^' to this kind on account of the resemblance it bears
to barley grasses, being far greater than that of any of the nmoeiQUS
other grasses called by that name in Queensland,. Badley.)

Where figured. — Bailey.

Botanical description (B. Fl., vii, 49S). — Much taller and stouter
than 8. glauca.

Leaves long, flat, oftdft above i inch broad.

Ligtda short, ciliate, otherwise quite glabrous in the typical form.

Spike-like panicle 3 to 8 inches long, compound, usually very compact and cylindrical,
or the lower branches longer,

Spikelets numerous on the lower branches, few on the upper ones, in dense clusters,
more or less interspersed with awn*like» barr«a branches* ovoid, acitte^. fully
I^ lines long, glabrous^

Outer glvme about half the length of the spikelet, the second shorter than the third,
but variable in proportion ; all membranous-, wit^ prominent nerves.

Fruiting glume often oblique or gibbous, always marked with prominent tnuuiverse
wrinkles, as in ^S*. glauca.

Value as a fodder. — A larger and better grass than the preceding.
^^ Produces a great amount of feed, of which cattle are extremely
fond. Frequently found in scrubs bordering rivers. Has a
e^mewhat straggling habit in the scrubs, but whexi sows i& the
open field it has been seen to greatly improve, and from what I
have seen of it I consider it equal, if not superior, to 8. iialica.
Worthy of field culture, either for cutting for green fodder or for
grazing.^^ (Bailey.)

Mr. G. McKeown has tested it at the Experiment Farm, WoUong-
bar, and reports : ^'An annual grass which has produced a large yield
of fodder, making hay of excellent quality, suitable only for cutting,
as it would not withstand grazing.^'

" This is called ^ Hungarian Millet,' but has no origin in Hungary.
It grows with wonderful rapidity in warm weather, especially when
irrigation can be applied, although it will grow on ordinary soils and
under ordinary conditions in summer. It will reach a height of about
6 feet in two months in the hottest weather if a good shower or two
of rain should fall during January. The fodder is very nutrftious,
and the seed can be sown at. any time from Ootober till February, aad
will produce a crop within eight or nine weeks." {The Gordon tmA
Field, vol. xv, p. 16.)

- Hahiiat and range. — Found in all the colonies except Tasmania and
Victoria. With us, only specifically recorded from the northern riverR.
Vit from interior localities in the other colonies. Widely diffused in
tropical Asia and America.

Digitized by




Spikelets one-flowered, solitary or two or three together ; sessile,
or nearly so ; each one enclosed in an involucre of seyeral usually
numerous simple or plumose bristles (probably awn-like branches of
the panicle), the involucres crowded in a spike or spike-like simple
panicle, falling off from the main rhachis with the spikelet and short

Glumes four, the outer one shorter or sometimes minute.

Second and third both empty.

Fruiting glume usually smaller.

Palea perfect. *

iS^yZe^' distinct or united almost to the plumose stigmas.

Nut enclosed in the more or less hardened glume and palea ; free
from it.

1. Fennisetum compressum, E.Br.

Botanical name. — Fennisetum — Latin, penna a feather, and seta a
bristle, each spikelet being enclosed in an involucre of feathery bristles;
compressum, pressed close or flattish, the stem being flattish.

Synonym. — P. japonicum, Trin. ^^ Closely allied to, if not identical,
with this species.'' (B. Fl.).

Vernacular name. — '' Swamp Foxtail Grass."

Where figured. — Agricultural Gazette.

Botanical description (B. Fl., vii, 495). —

Sums 2 to 3 feet high, erect, usually very scabrous and more or less hirsute under
the panicle, glabrous and smooth lower down.

Leaves long and narrow, glabrous, the ligula prominent.

Involucres nearly sessile in a simple cylindrical dense spike of 3 to 6 inches, con-
sisting of numerous very unequal bristles, the inner more rigid ones varying
from i to 1 inch.

OiUer ones much shorter and finer, mostly minutely scabrous-ciliate, but none of
them plumose.

Spikdet solitary, within the involucre ; narrow, terete, rather acute, about 3 lines

OtUer glume under i line long, orbicular.

Second glume, from one-third to one-half the length of the spikelet.

Third many-nerved, empty.

Fruiting glume scarcely more rigid than the third.

Styles united up to the feathery branches.

Valus as a fodder. — It is a coarse-growing, fibrous grass, little eaten
by stock except when young and comparatively tender ; when it is old
it is as full of fibre as almost any sedge. It grows in large tufts, and
when in flower is of an ornamental character.

Habitat and range. — Confined to New South Wales and Queensland,
occurring from the southern districts of our Colony from the coast to
the tableland. Often found on the margins of swamps, and frequently
as tussocks in paddocks in cold districts.

Digitized by




Spikelets with one terminal hermaplirodite flower, and sometimes a
male one below it, not awned, singly or two or three together, within
an ovoid or globular involucre of numerous bristles, the inner ones
usually broad and flattened, connected at the base and hardened
round the fruit, the involucres sessile or pedicellate in a simple spike
or raceme, and falling off with the spikelets.

Glumes four, the outer one much smaller, sometimes minute, the
second and third nearly equal, or the second shorter, a palea and
sometimes three stamens in the third.

Fruiting glume more rigid than the other, but not so much hardened
as in Panicum.

Styles usually very shortly united at the base.

Nut enclosed in the fruiting glume and palea, free from them.

1. Cenchrus australisy K.Br.

Botanical name, — Cenchrus, from a Greek word for ^^ millet ^' (ecjui-
valent to the Latin milium) ; au^tralis, Latin, southern, — in botanical
names it frequently indicates Australian.

Vernacular names, — ^^ Large Burr-grass,^' " Scrub or Hillside Burr-

Where figured. — Agricultural Gazette,

Botanical description (B. Fl., vii, 497). — A stout glabrous grass,
attaining 6 to 9 feet.

Leaves long and flat.

LigtUa split into cilia.

Spike rather dense, 4 to 8 inches long.

Rhachia slightly scabrous, pubescent.

InvoltLcrea very shortly pedicellate, erect or at length reflexed, broadly ovoid, under

4 lines long.
Inner bristles, or lobes, about ten, flattened and very shortly united at the base,

plumose in the lower half, scabrous in'the upper part, with reversed asperities,

one sometimes but not frequently longer than the others.
Outer bristles numerous, unequal, subulate and scabrous from the base.
Spikelets always (?) solitary in the involucre and shorter than the inner lobes.
Outer glume short, obtuse, hyaline, nerveless.
Second glume acute, three or five nerved.
Third rather longer, five-nerved, with a palea and sometimes a male flower in its

Frmtipg glume as long.

Values as a fodder, — A long, scrambling, undesirable grass. The
herbage it affords is harsh and coarse, while its burrs cling to clothing
and to the bodies of animals. There is no doubt that it affords a
little feed when young, but I fancy most pastoralists consider that its
disadvantages outweigh its advantages. O^Shanesy^s statement is
that it '^ is very nutritious, but that its long spikes of clinging seeds
prevent catfle from feeding on it."

Habitat and range, — ^New South Wales and Queensland. O'Shanesy
gives its habitat as on moist banks. Bailey says whole hillsides on

Digitized by



the ranges may often be seen covered by this grass, both in New South
Wales and Queensland. In our Colony it is found on the poorest
soils to the best, but it prefers good soil in brush country on hillsides.
Found from south (Mount Dromedary) to th# north of our Colony in
the Coast districts.


Spihelets with one terminal flower, usually female by abortion and
a male one below it, few and distant or solitary on the filiform branches
of a simple panicle, the partial rhachis produced into a long awolike
point beyond the insertion of the upper or only spikelet.

Glumes four, the outer empty one very small, the second and third
nearly equal, membranous, or at length rigid, many nerved, often
tapering to a point, but not awned ; the third with a palea, and three
stamens in its axil ; the fourth, or fruiting glume, shorter and very
faintly nerved.

Palea with inflected margins, but not auriculate.

Staminodia usually two, very slender, with small abortive anthets.

Styles very shortly united at the base.

Grain enclosed in the scarious, or rather rigid fruiting glume and
palea, but free from them. Semi-aquatic grasses, glabrous, or
nearly so.

Leaves flat, the ligula short.

I^nicle spreading, with distant spibelets on filiform branches.

Fruiting giume short and obtuse 1. C7. tfptitewefM.

Panicle spikelike but loose, the spikelets often two together on th«
lower branches. Fruiting glume acute. Outer glume half a
line long, membranous »^ ... ... 2, C, paradoxa.

1. ChamsBraphis spinescens, Poir.

Botanical name. — ChamaRrafhis, Greek, chamai for " on the ground,'^
and r aphis a needle, referring to th© awn-Hke point of the rhachis ;
spinescens, derived from the Latin spina, a thorn or prickle, having
much the meaning of raphis in the present connection.
Synonym. — Panicum spinescens, R.Br.
Botanical description (B. Fl., vii, 498) : —
Stems creeping at the base, and when in water forming large floating msBns.
Leaves linear-lanceolate, flat, with loose flattened sheaths, qu£te smooth, <»* slightly

Panicle, 2 to 4 inches long, with rather numerous filiform, flexaose, spreading
branches produced beyond the last spikekt into as awnlifkid point always loogiBr
thaa the spikelet.
SpiheUts few on each branch, distant, shortly pedicellate, but closely appsessed in

each bend of the rhachis, very narrow, about 3 lines long in the typical form*
Pedicels and rhachis osoally minut^y scsbrous-ciliate.

OuUr glwme about J line long, thinly membranoQA, the seoond many-D6fT«d,
tapering to a long point ; the third usually nidter smaller, with a shorter point
aiMl fewer nerves, enclosing the male flower.
Fruiting glume much shorter, obtuse, very thin, and remaining thin as well as the
palea over the grain which readily falls out of them.

Digitized by


Digitized by


Chamseraphis paradoxa, Poir.

A *' Mud-grass "

Digitized by



¥(dti£ m a fodder, — ^A creeping grass foraid near water; forms a
good sward, covering the land as the water recedes in waterhobflK
(Bailey) . Believed to be nutritious ; stock eat it readily;

Habitat and range. — A semi-aquatic, found in all the colonie* exeept
Tasmania ; and, as regards our own Colony, from the Coast districts on
thsr racoges and table-lands to the driest districts. Found also in

2. ChamserapMs poradoxa, Foir.

Botanical ncmie, — Paradoxal — ^Latin adjective, " something unusual
or unwcpected,^' a name &st given to this grass by Robert Brown,
who called it Panicum paradoxum, as it was abnormal in comparison
with other species of that genus.

&grum/ym, — Panicum paradoammj R. Br.

Online LibraryJoseph Henry MaidenA manual of the grasses of New South Wales → online text (page 7 of 24)