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Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Chiov. Fountain Grass
Bull.Soc.Bot.Ital. 1923:113 (1923)

Conservation Code: Not threatened
Naturalised Status: Alien to Western Australia
Name Status: Not Current
Photo of Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Chiov.

Brief Description
Grazyna Paczkowska, Thursday 2 December 1993

Rhizomatous, tufted perennial, grass-like or herb, 0.4-1.5 m high. Fl. purple, Jul to Dec or Mar (occasionally). Loam, sand. Common in disturbed areas.

Management Notes (for the Swan NRM Region)
Kate Brown and Karen Bettink, Monday 18 February 2013

General Biology. Growth form. Grass. Life form. Perennial, caespitose. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Wind, water, mammals, livestock, slashing, humans. Photosynthetic Pathway. C4. Seedbank persistence. 6+ years. Fire response. Rapidly resprouts, flowers and sets seeds.

Notes. Weed of woodlands, grasslands, coastal vegetation, rail embankments, roadsides and mines. Is declared a noxious weed in New South Wales and Queensland. Nutrient addition and moisture promote invasiveness. Readily out-competes native plants, can alter nutrient cycling and increase fire fuel loads. Has high phenotypic plasticity. Recovers well from defoliation by rapidly reshooting and flowering. Water availability (particularly wetter summers) affects seed production and may favour spread. Seed set can occur without fertilisation. Seedlings readily establish in wetter years and then become drought tolerant in drier years, allowing it to maintain dominance over other grasses.

Additional information. Origin. Tropical Africa, Middle East. History of use/introduction. Ornamental, sandbinding to prevent erosion. Similar exotic species. Pennisetum villosum.

Suggested method of management and control. Dig out small infestations, slash in winter and/or spray with 1% glyphosate + penetrant in spring to autumn. Follow up seedling control and treatment until regrowth ceases. Use unplanned fire events to effectively control any regrowth. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.

Management Calendar

Calendar Type Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Comments
Dormant           Y Y            
Active Growth Y Y             Y Y Y Y  
Germination       O Y Y Y Y          
Flowering Y Y           Y Y Y Y Y  
Fruiting Y Y                 Y Y  
Optimum Treatment     Y Y O           Y Y  

Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.

 

References

  • Benton, N. (1997) Fountain Grass Fact Sheet. URL: http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/factmain.htm - Accessed December 2007. Plant Conservation Alliance, Alien Plant Working Group (APWG).
  • Brown, K. & Brooks, K. (2002) Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network, Greenwood.
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture (2001) Encycloweedia: The noxious weeds data sheets. URL: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/phpps/ipc/encycloweedia/encycloweedia_hp.htm - Accessed December 2007.
  • Cordell, S. & Sandquist, D.R. (2008) The impact of an invasive African bunchgrass (Pennisetum setaceum) on water availability and productivity of canopy trees within a tropical dry forest in Hawaii. Functional Ecology, 22: 1008-1017.
  • CRC Weed Management (2008) Weed Management Guide - Feathergrasses and mission grasses (Pennisetum species). CRC for Australian Weed Management, Canberra.
  • DeLaine, D. & Stokes, Z. (2006) Controlling Bushland Weeds on the Lower Eyre Peninsula. Rural Solutions, Adelaide, South Australia.
  • Dixon, B. & Keighery, G. (1995) Weeds and their control. In Managing Perths bushlands (eds. M. Scheltema and J. Harris). Greening Western Australia, Perth.
  • Goergen, E. & Daehler, C.C. (2001) Reproductive ecology of a native Hawaiian Grass (Heteropogon contortus; Poaceae) versus its invasive alien competitior (Pennisetum setaceum; Poaceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences, 162 (2): 317-326.
  • Goergen, E. & Daehler, C.C. (2002) Factors affecting seedling recruitment in an invasive grass (Pennisetum setaceum) and a native grass (Heteropogon contortus) in the Hawaiian Islands. Plant Ecology, 161: 147-156.
  • Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Dodd, J., Lloyd, S.G. & Cousens, R.D. (2007) Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. 2nd Edition. The Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Victoria Park.
  • Litton, C.M., Sandquist, D.R. & Cordell, S. (2008) A non-native invasive grass increases soil carbon flux in a Hawaiian tropical dry forest. Global Change Biology, 14: 726-739.
  • Milton, S.J., Dean, W.R.J. & Rahlao, S.J. (2008) Evidence for induced psuedo-vivapry in Pennisetum setaceum (Fountain grass) invading a dry river, arid Karoo, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany, 74: 348-349.
  • Milton, S.J., Hoffmann, J.H., Bowie, R.C.K., D'Amico, J., Griffiths, M., Joubert, D., Loewenthal, D., Moinde, N.N., Seymour, C., Toral-Granda, M.V. & Wiseman, R. (1998) Invasive Fountain Grass on the Cape Peninsula. South African Journal of Science, 94 (2): 57.
  • Moore, C.B. & Moore, J.H. (2002) Herbiguide, the pesticide expert on a disk. Herbiguide, PO Box 44 Albany, Western Australia, 6330.
  • Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (2008) Plant threats to Pacific ecosystems. URL: http://www.hear.org/pier/scinames.htm - Accessed January 2010.
  • Poulin, J., Sakai, A.K., Weller, S.G. & Nguyen, T. (2007) Phenotypic plasticity, precipitation and invasiveness in the fire-promoting grass Pennisetum setaceum (Poaceae). American Journal of Botany, 94 (533-541).
  • Poulin, J., Weller, S.G. & Sakai, A.K. (2005) Genetic diversity does not affect the invasiveness of fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum) in Arizona, California and Hawaii. Diversity and Distributions, 11: 241-245.
  • Radho-Toly, S., Majer, J.D. & Yates, C. (2001) Impact of fire on leaf nutrients, arthropod fauna and herbivory of native and exotic eucalypts in Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia. Austral Ecology, 26 (5): 500-506.
  • Radho-Toly, S., Majer, J.D. & Yates, C. (2001) Impact of fire on leaf nutrients, arthropod fauna and herbivory of native and exotic eucalypts in Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia. Austral Ecology, 26 (5): 500-506.
  • Rahlao, S.J., Esler, K.J., Milton, S.J. & Barnard, P. (2010) Nutrient addition and moisture promote the invasiveness of crimson fountaingrass (Pennisetum setaceum). Weed Science, 58 (2): 154-159.
  • Tunison, J.T. (1992) Fountain grass control in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Management considerations and strategies. In Alien plant invasions in native ecosystems of Hawaii: Management and research (eds. C.P. Stone, C.W. Smith, and J.T. Tunison) . University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, USA. University of Hawaii Cooperative National Park Resource Studies Unit.
  • Williams, D.G., Mack, R.N. & Black, R.A. (1995) Ecophysiology of introduced Pennisetum setaceum on Hawaii: the role of phenotypic plasticity. Ecology, 26 (5): 1569-1580.

Project information and acknowledgements