Poa billardierei


Poa: meadow grass
billardierei: Named after Jacques Houttou de Labillardiere (1755-1834), 19th century French botanist who described several New Zealand plants

Common Name(s)

Sand tussock, hinarepe

Current Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Gradual Decline


2012 - SO
2009 - SO


Poa billardierei (Spreng.)St.-Yves



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class



Festuca littoralis Labill.; Schedonorus littoralis (Labill.) P.Beauv.; Triodia billardierei Spreng.; Poa billardierei (Spreng.)St.-Yves; Schedonorus billardiereanus Nees; Arundo triodioides Trin.; Schedonorus littoralis var. alpha minor Hook.f.; Austrofestuca littoralis (Labill.) E.B.Alexev.


North Island, South Island, Chatham Island (apparently absent from Chatham Island now despite being formerly abundant). Also found in temperate Australia.


Coastal dunes; sandy and rocky places near the shore, especially foredunes and dune hollows.


Yellow-green tussocks up to about 70 cm tall. Leaves fine, rolled, somewhat drooping (coarser than silver tussock), initially green, often fading at tips to silver, and drying to golden-straw colour. Seed heads no longer than leaves; seeds relatively large, barley-like, leaving a characteristic zig-zag look to the remaining head when fallen. Flowers in early summer and the seed are produced in late summer. It could be confused with Poa chathamica which has blue-green or grass-green flat leaves and an open seed head which overtops the foliage. It could also be confused with marram grass which has similar foliage but large cat’stail-like seed heads which overtop the foliage.

Similar Taxa

Ammophila arenaria (marram grass) is often confused with sand tussock because they grow in the same habitat.


Early summer


Mid to late summer

Propagation Technique

Collect seed in mid to late summer-autumn (early January in Wellington). Use fresh seed, sow in free-draining seed-raising mix (50:50 peat:sand), cover lightly with sieved river sand. It should germinate within 2 months. Grow on in open position where they will not be waterlogged. When growing by division collect matrial in autumn (after flowering has finished) or spring (before new growth appears). Use vigorous pieces from outside of plant and do not make divisions too small. Water regularly until established and new growth appears. Plant out in well-drained soil in open situation.


Mammalian grazing and browsing (palatable to sheep, cattle, goats and horses). Competition from marram grass. Coastal development and use of vehicles. The combined impact of browsing and competition from marram grass is believed to have caused the loss of the species from the Chatham Islands.

Chromosome No.

2n = 28

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Life Cycle and Dispersal

Florets are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).

Notes on taxonomy

Until 2009 Poa billardierei was treated in Australasia as part of the segregate genus Austrofestuca Tzvelev. Soreng et al. (2009) reinstated the name Poa billardierei for this species after demonstrating that it and the allied Australian endemic Austrofestuca pubinervis (Vickery) B.K.Simon (now Poa pubinervis Vickery) were nested within Poa where they form their own section (Sect. Austrofestuca (Tzvelev) Soreng, L.J.Gillespie & S.W.L.Jacobs). The other two Australian endemic species of Austrofestuca (A. eriopoda (Vickery) S.W.L.Jacobs and A. hookeriana (F.Muell. ex Hook.f.) S.W.L.Jacobs are now placed in the reinstated Hookerochloa.


Fact Sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 2 September 2003.

References and further reading

Cameron, E.K. 1991. Austrofestuca an extinct addition to the Waitakere Flora. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 46: 20.

Mitcalfe, B., Horne, C. 2002. Rediscovery of a nationally rare tussock in Makara Foreshore Reserve, Owhariu Bay, Wellington. Wellingtpn Botanical Society Bulletin 48: 23-24 

Soreng, R.J.; Gillespie, L.J.; Jacobs, S.W.L. 2009: Saxipoa and Sylvipoa - two new genera and a new classification for Australian Poa (Poaceae: Poinae). Australian Systematic Botany 22: 401-412.

Stanley, R. 2001. Sand tussock Austrofestuca littoralis update on the Auckland populations. Auckland Botanical Society Journal, 56: 21-22 

Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2009 Vol. 11 No. 4 pp. 285-309

This page last updated on 10 May 2014