Vascular – Exotic
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.
Tufted pale, greyish green, furry grass, velvety to the touch, up to c. 1 m tall, with a soft whitish, pale green, pinkish or purple flower head.
Common throughout New Zealand.
A wide range of disturbed wet and dry sites, often in fens.
Tufted, sometimes stoloniferous, softly hairy, greyish green perennials, 35-110 cm. Leaf-sheath firmly membranous, striate, ± keeled above near ligule, villous with long, fine, silky hairs, basal sheaths often purplish. Ligule (0.6)-1-3 mm, ± truncate, denticulate, apex finely ciliate and occasionally with a few long hairs, abaxially villous. Leaf-blade (2.5)-4.5-15-(20) cm × (1.5)-3-10 mm, pubescent and with longer soft hairs, narrowed to acuminate tip; margins finely ciliate, and with longer hairs. Culm erect, or ascending from geniculate base, nodes and internodes pubescent. Panicle 4-18 × 1.5-7 cm, lanceolate, ovoid or sometimes oblong, dense to lax, erect or nodding; rachis and branches pubescent. Spikelets 3.8-5.5 mm, whitish, pale green, or purplish. Glumes stiff-ciliate on keels and lateral nerves of upper glume, elsewhere minutely scabrid to shortly pubescent; lower sometimes slightly shorter, narrow-lanceolate, acute to mucronate, upper broader, elliptic, mucronate, or awned to 0.8 mm. Lemma 2-2.7 mm, elliptic-lanceolate, glabrous, shining, keel sparsely finely prickle-toothed, apex minutely ciliate-scabrid; lower lemma awnless, upper lemma narrower, awn stout, 1.4-2.8 mm, inserted c. 0.4 mm below tip of lemma, becoming recurved and uncinate. Palea keels sparsely short-ciliate above, apex obtusely lobed, minutely ciliate. Callus hairs few, to 1 mm. Rachilla glabrous. Anthers 1-2.2 mm. Caryopsis 1-1.5 × 0.4-0.5 mm.
Another Holcus species, H. mollis, found in eastern and south western South island, is similar, but forms loose swards, not dense tufts, very hairy nodes and brown, rather than purple, veins on the sheath.
Spring to early summer
Green, Purple, Red/Pink, White
Summer to autumn
Perennial. Seed dispersed by animals, water or contaminated machinery.
Reason for introduction
Pasture plant or seed contaminant
Rarely controlled, but can be controlled manually, mechanically or herbicidally depending on situation.
holcus: From the Greek holkus, an old Greek name for grass.
Factsheet prepared by Paul Champion and Deborah Hofstra (NIWA). Features description from Edgar and Connor, (2000).
References and further reading
Johnson, A. T. and Smith, H. A (1986). Plant Names Simplified: Their pronunciation, derivation and meaning. Landsman Bookshop Ltd: Buckenhill, UK.
Edgar E. and H. Connor. 2000. Flora of New Zealand. Volume 5. Manaaki Whenua Press: Lincoln, New Zealand.
Johnson PN, Brooke PA (1989). Wetland plants in New Zealand. DSIR Field Guide, DSIR Publishing, Wellington. 319pp.
Champion et al (2012). Freshwater Pests of New Zealand. NIWA publication. http://www.niwa.co.nz/freshwater-and-estuaries/management-tools/identification-guides-and-fact-sheets/freshwater-pest-species
Lambrechtsen, N.C. (1986). What grass is that? A guide to identification of some introduced grasses in New Zealand by vegetative characters. New Zealand DSIR Information Series no. 87