African feather grass

Common name:  African feather grass
Scientific name:  Cenchrus macrourus
Management programme:  Exclusion

Why is it a pest?

African feather grass produces large amounts of seeds which are easily spread by wind and can be carried on clothing. The plant can spread quickly, crowding out other low growing plant species. It can also impact on our production and economic values.

What does it look like?

To the untrained eye, African feather grass looks like any tussocky grass. It forms thick clumps up to 2m high and the leaves are whitish green on top, ribbed, and dark green underneath. The leaf edges feel rough when touched and the casing is covered in hairs. African feather grass produces fibre-like roots and stems that will form new shoots. The flowers form a long thin spike, that’s a straw yellow colour, and sometimes has a purplish tinge. The seeds have bristles which allow them to become easily attached to clothing, animal hair or wool.

When can I spot it best?

As its flower is quite distinctive it’s easiest to spot when in bloom from December to April.

What are the rules?

While there are no rules for landowners in Otago regarding African feather grass, if it gets into Otago, ORC would take the lead role in control. Over the life of the pest plan (10 years), the goal is to stop the establishment of African feather grass in Otago to prevent negative effects on economic well-being and environmental values.

How will we achieve that?

ORC will be responsible for controlling the plant if it gets into Otago. If you think you have spotted African feather grass please let us know by calling 0800 474 082 or emailing

How can I control it?

The lengthy root system makes it difficult to remove. If you think you have African feather grass, please let us know and we’ll take care of controlling it.

Management programme

Page last updated 26 June 2024.