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Australian Native Grasses List (Identification Guide) 

There’s a huge selection of native grasses to choose from and most are drought-tolerant and don’t require a lot of care.

Featured Image: Austrostipa densiflora / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If you’re looking for low-maintenance plants that add something extra to your garden, you can’t go past Australian native grasses.

There’s a huge selection to choose from and most are drought-tolerant and don’t require a lot of care.

Native grasses can be grown as specimen plants in garden beds with other native or ornamental plants or, they can be used to line a driveway or soften up a harsh fence line.

Lomandra longifolia (Spiney Headed Mat Rush)

Lomandra longifolia Spiney Headed Mat Rush | Native plants
Lomandra longifolia / Photo by Peterdownunder / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

This hardy native grass is fast-growing and will thrive in most climates. It is drought and frost-tolerant and can even handle wet areas that are prone to flooding.

Lomandra longifolia has glossy, green, strappy leaves and produces long flower spikes in spring. Lovely fragrant cream and yellow flowers grow on these spikes.

Each plant grows to a height and width of 1 metre.

Dianella revoluta (Spreading Flax Lily)

Dianella revoluta Spreading Flax Lily | Native plants
Dianella revoluta / Photo by Donald Hobern / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Most people would be familiar with the purple-blue flowers and bright purple berries of Dianella revoluta. It has firm, strappy green leaves and is great for mass planting as a border.

What you may not be aware of is that the berries of this particular species are actually edible and contain tiny, nutty seeds.

This native grass will grow both in full sun and part shade. It can reach a height of 1 metre and a width of 1.5 metres.

It’s also drought and frost-tolerant and attracts bees and birds into your garden.

Pennisetum alopecuroides (Fountain Grass)

Pennisetum alopecuroides Fountain Grass | Native plants
Pennisetum alopecuroides / Photo by Dinkum / Wikimedia / CC0 1.0

This lovely, soft native grass can be distinguished by its tall flower spikes that look similar to a fox tail. These are a soft creamy colour and rise well above the fine, green leaves. 

One advantage of this native grass species is that it will grow in moist and boggy soils. It can be planted in full sun and part shade and is frost-tolerant.

It will appreciate some water during hot, dry spells. Like most native grasses, it will reach a height and width of 1 metre.

Dianella longifolia (Blue Flax Lily)

Dianella longifolia Blue Flax Lily | Native plants
Dianella longifolia / Photo by Moonlight0551 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

You can easily identify this native grass by its long flower spikes that feature tiny blue flowers in late spring through to summer.

After flowering, the plant produces purple berries that are edible. The leaves are bright green and strappy. 

This native grass is both frost and drought-tolerant and can be successfully grown in most soils. It will grow in full sun and part shade.

Each plant will reach a height and width of 1 metre. Like most native grasses, it can be cut back when it needs a tidy-up or left to grow naturally.

Microlaena stipoides (Weeping rice-grass)

Microlaena stipoides Weeping rice grass cropped | Native plants
Microlaena stipoides / Photo by John Tann / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

This low-growing native grass is ideal for gardeners who are interested in creating a native lawn.

It has slender, lime green leaves and will produce very slender stems with seeds. 

In order to grow this native grass as a lawn, you should plant it close together with a spacing of 10 cm.

This species is ideal for planting in shady areas where many lawn species will not grow well.

It will take some time to establish a lush lawn using this grass species but once even coverage has been achieved, the grass requires very little mowing or other maintenance.

Did you know?

Many native Australian plants are adapted to low-nutrient soils, especially low in phosphorus.

Over-fertilising, particularly with high phosphorus fertilisers, can harm these plants. It’s best to use a slow-release, low-phosphorus fertiliser, specifically formulated for native plants.

We recommend this native fertiliser from Amgrow, designed to promote healthy root growth, lush foliage, and increased flowering, without overwhelming native species.

Poa labillardierei (Common Tussock-grass, Eskdale)

Poa labillardierei Common Tussock grass Eskdale | Native plants
Poa labillardierei / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This lovely native grass has soft, slender leaves that are grey-green in colour. These form a weeping habit giving the plant a graceful appearance.

It’s a hardy grass that looks fantastic when mass planted as a border. It will grow in full sun and part shade and can handle most soil types that are free-draining.

Like many other native types of grass, it generally grows to a height and width of 1 metre.

Poa sieberiana (Snow grass, Grey Tussock-grass)

Poa sieberiana Snow grass Grey Tussock grass | Native plants
Poa sieberiana / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This native grass species is extremely hardy and will grow in most areas around the country.

It has slender, soft green leaves that are very fine. The seed heads are tall and also willowy. 

This frost-hardy and drought tolerant plant will grow in full sun or part shade. It will reach a height of 1 metre and a width of around half a metre.

Orthrosanthus multiflorus (Morning Iris)

Orthrosanthus multiflorus Morning Iris cropped | Native plants
Orthrosanthus multiflorus / Photo by cultivar413 / Flickr (cropped) / CC BY 2.0

This native grass species is actually a member of the iris family and this is evident by the pretty blue, star-shaped flowers.

The flowers only last a day but they are produced in huge numbers during spring and summer. The dark green strappy leaves create a lovely contrast to the blue flowers.

This clumping native grass will reach a height and width of around 1 metre. It prefers to grow in a semi-shaded spot but will tolerate full sun.

Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass)

Themeda triandra Kangaroo Grass | Native plants
Themeda triandra / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Kangaroo grass is excellent for creating a natural landscape in your garden.

It has long strappy leaves that can reach a length of 50 cm. These are green when young but turn red as they age.

The plant also grows tall seed heads that can reach 1 metre in height during summer. These will last right through until the end of April.

This plant is not frost-hardy but is drought-tolerant. It has the added advantage of attracting butterflies and other good bugs to your garden.

Libertia paniculata (Branching Grass-flag)

Libertia paniculata Branching Grass flag cropped | Native plants
Libertia paniculata / Photo by Peter Halasz / Wikimedia (cropped) / CC BY-SA 3.0

This is a tropical grass species and is ideal for growing in moist and shady spots in your garden.

It has glossy, green leaves that are quite striking. In addition, it produces star-shaped white flowers in spring and summer. These add a lovely contrast to the dark green foliage.

This is a smaller-growing species and will only reach a height and width of around ½ metre. It will tolerate light frosts but likes to be kept moist throughout the year.

Austrodanthonia caespitosa (Wallaby grass)

Austrodanthonia caespitosa Wallaby grass | Native plants
Austrodanthonia caespitosa / Photo by Harry Rose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This fluffy-looking native grass will grow in most areas of the country and in most soil types.

It has weeping strappy leaves and tall seed head spikes. These are pale green to white and quite soft in appearance.

The plant is frost-hardy and moderately drought tolerant and grows to a height of almost 1 metre and a width of 0.12 metres.

Austrostipa (Speargrass)

Austrostipa Speargrass | Native plants
Austrostipa densiflora / Photo by Macleay Grass Man / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There are numerous varieties of speargrass grown around the country. All are drought-tolerant and grow well in areas of high temperatures and shallow soils. 

Most speargrass species have fine, strappy leaves and tall feathery seed heads.

They are ideal for natural landscapes and will tolerate less-than-ideal conditions.

Native Grass FAQ

How many native grasses are there in Australia?

There are approximately 1000 native grass species in Australia. Common varieties include Kangaroo grass and Wallaby grass.

How do you plant Australian native grasses?

As native grasses are hardy plants, all you have to do is dig a hole, take the plant out of the pot and place it in the hole. Backfill with soil and water.

How do you care for Australian native grasses?

Australian native grasses are low-maintenance plants and don’t require a lot of care. They can be trimmed back to keep them tidy and will respond well with fresh new growth.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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2 thoughts on “Australian Native Grasses List (Identification Guide) ”

    • Hi Lee

      Dianella revoluta and Microlaena stipoides are native to the south west of WA and Dianella longifolia occurs naturally in all states including WA. Orthrosanthus multiflorus is also native to WA as is Themeda triandra, Austrostipa mollis and Austrodanthonia caespitosa.

      Reply

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