Natural populations

All native Australian Stipa are now relegated to the new genus Austrostipa [114].  Austrostipa mollis is widespread on sand and/or low nutrient soils in the southern states of southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, and separate populations in south-west Western Australia and Tasmania [7]. It is a very common component in sandy coastal heathlands [16]. In general, Austrostipa species have a high frost and drought tolerance and populations decrease with increases in grazing intensity or soil fertility levels [38].

Flowering and seeds

It flowers in spring to summer [16, 43, 44] or in response to rain [43]. As Austrostipa mollis is a C3 temperate winter grass, propagation (using fresh seed) in autumn or early winter when air temperatures are in the 12-25°C range is recommended [93, 114].

Cultivation and uses

Of moderate to low value as stock feed [116]. There is a risk of seed burrowing into stock, so paddocks with this grass in seed are best avoided at this time. Its stock values decreases sharply as it ages, so if managed by burning or grazing fresh growth will be promoted (pers. comm. Paul Gibson-Roy, Grassy Groundcover Project].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 250-1400 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 8-19 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 20-31 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: -2-9 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 0-1050 metres
Tolerance of climate extremes
Drought: known to be moderately drought tolerant
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam or sand
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5)
Drainage:  well-drained
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen grass
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Root system: shallow and spreading


[7] Sharp D, Simon BK (2002) AusGrass: Grasses of Australia. CD-ROM, Version 1.0., Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, and Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland.

[16] Walsh NG, Entwisle TJ (1994 - 1999) Flora of Victoria. Volume 2 - 4, Inkata Press, Melbourne.

[38] Mitchell M, Miller M (1990) The identification of some common native grasses in Victoria - a set of compilation notes. Rutherglen Research Institute, Victoria.

[43] National Herbarium of New South Wales (2008) PlantNET - Flora of New South Wales. (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008).

[44] Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Environment and Conservation (2008) FloraBase: the Western Australian flora. (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008).

[114] Butler R (2001) Native perennial grass based pastures. Farm Note 43/2001 (Online resource) (Accessed: February 2008)

[115] Jacobs SWL, Everett J (1996) Austrostipa, a new genus, and new names for Australasian species formerly included in Stipa (Gramineae). Telopea 6(4): 587.

[116] Managing Tasmania's native pastures. (Online resource)  (Accessed: February 2008)

Internet links

FloraBase Western Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution:

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution:

South Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution:

Tasmanian understorey network: