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Long Style Feather Grass

LS feathergrass fl

LS feathergrass pl

Fountain grass

Fntn grass & sw.foxtail

Wallaby grass1

Wallaby grass2

Wallaby grass3

Setaria gracilis, a pigeon grass

Setaria gracilis close-up



Long style feather grass or feathertop or white foxtail grass (Pennisetum villosum) is listed as noxious in class 4 only in Southern Slopes LCA in the Southern Tablelands and South East Region. 


A tussock forming perennial grass to 70cm in height, which has underground runners (rhizomes). Green to blue-green leaves are 6-30cm long and 2-6mm wide, with prominent veins on the upper surface giving a ribbed appearance and finely serrated margins. The flowering stems are up to 12cm long, dense, fluffy and white, with long bristles.
Feathertop is widespread in NSW and in other eastern states, but usually only a minor weed. However, the underground rhizomes gradually expand the size of clumps, and it can become abundant in pasture. Being unpalatable it reduces carrying capacity. It may occasionally become an environmental weed of grassy woodlands and grasslands.


Existing plants spread by rhizomes. Seed sticks to animals and clothing, and may be spread over longer distances by this method.
It may also be spread in soil on vehicle tyres and machinery, and by roadside slashing or roadworks. Although a prolific seeder, seedling establishment is usually poor, with plants growing best in sandy soils.


The fluffy white seed heads are very distinctive to this species. There are two grasses with fluffy purple or reddish seed heads, the native swamp foxtail grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides),
which grows in wet areas, and has erect, short dark red bristly seed heads, and the introduced ornamental fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum), now listed as noxious in class 5, though previously a popular garden plant. It has longer, often curving, purple bristly heads. The 4th photo above shows the native swamp foxtail on the left and fountain grass on the right.

Some of the many native wallaby grasses (Rytidosperma, formerly Austrodanthonia and Notodanthonia species) have fluffy white seed heads, although they lack the very long bristles of long style feather grass.  

Pigeon grasses (Setaria species) also have seed heads with long bristles, but they are held in narrow vertical spikes and are greenish, not white.


Dig or spot spray new infestations before seeding. Once a dense infestation has developed, repeated cultivation in summer to exhaust the rhizomes or an integrated control program using cultivation, competing crops and herbicides may be needed. Grass-specific herbicides can control it in broadleaf crops.