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Time to check and remove Nassella Tussock

Nassella tussock (Nassella trichotoma) is a perennial (lasts for several years) plant. It can be found throughout New Zealand and now is the time to look for it and remove it, before it starts to seed.

Mature plants can produce up to 120,000 seeds which are spread by wind, water, stock, vehicles and clothing.

Nassella is a problem as stock wont eat it and it takes over areas, preventing other species from growing.

It is difficult to identify, but if you are not sure - just send through photos using the Find-A-Pest app and we can help you with this.

How to identify Nassella Tussock (reference: Environment Canterbury)

Nassella Tussock Seeds (Nassella trichotoma)
Nassella Tusssock Seeds
  • Tussock-like perennial growing in clumps up to 70cm x 70cm.

  • Leaves are bright green and upright in small plants, becoming duller and more drooping as plants mature.

  • Leaves are finer in appearance than the more common silver tussock and feel rough when rubbed from tip to base.

  • Stem bases are whitish and swollen (like small shallots). When squeezed, the base feels very hard.

  • When grubbed out, nassella divides easily into small clumps.

  • Roots are deep, fibrous and matted, making even small plants difficult to pull out.

  • Flower heads are purple and carried on slender stalks from October to December. They are erect when young and droop over leaves when mature.

  • Seeds are small, oval and purplish-brown with a very long bristle at the tip.

  • Nassella tussock is most obvious when flowers or seeds are present.

The easiest way to remove small quantities of it is by grubbing it out. For larger areas, there are spray options and your regional council will be able to give the best advice on how to best manage Nassella tussock on your land. Check out Environment Canterbury's website for more helpful information or download this handy guide from Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research

Download PDF • 876KB

If you think you have spotted some, just snap a photo and send it in via the Find-A-Pest app. All regional councils and DOC are part of the Find-A-Pest programme and will welcome any sightings so this pest can be managed.

Nassella Tussock Seeds
Flower head is a loose cluster of subtle purple spikelets from October to December. Red/pink seeds are visible from January. The rough seed coating attaches easily to wool or clothing. Photo: Graeme Bourdot, AgResearch
Dense nassella tussock perennial grass
Dense nassella tussock perennial grass. Leaves have a blue-green tinge with blonde leaf tips. Image: Environment Canterbury


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