Common name: Kangaroo Grass, Durawi (D'harawal)
Themeda australis (R.Br.) Stapf APNI*
Description: Densely caespitose, leafy perennials, to c. 1.2 m tall. Nodes usually glabrous and sometimes pruinose, or occasionally densely pubescent.
Lower sheaths glabrous to densely villous with appressed or spreading hairs; ligule very short, truncate, jagged, breaking up into minute cilia; blade 2–5 mm wide, usually glabrous but occasionally margined with tubercle-based hairs.
Inflorescence usually more or less obovate, interrupted, mostly 10–25 cm long, but sometimes much longer, 2–6-noded; primary branches usually enclosed within the subtending (spathaceous) sheaths; subtending sheaths similar to the lower culm leaves below but becoming shorter upwards; ultimate subtending (spathaceous) sheaths keeled, compressed, glabrous or with scattered tubercle-based hairs, tubercles when present either pale or dark. Involucral spikelets male or neuter, 6–12 mm long, 1–1.75 mm wide, narrowly lanceolate, acute or acuminate, dorsally compressed, persistent; glumes subequal, lower firm, closely striate, c. 11-nerved, acuminate, glabrous or rarely with a few tubercle-based hairs; upper glume more or less hyaline, 3-nerved, acuminate, loosely 2-keeled and firmer on the keels; lower lemma a little shorter, hyaline, faintly 1-nerved, jagged or acute at the apex, without a palea. Bisexual spikelet c. 8 mm long including the rachis, narrowly elliptical, turgid, the glumes at first pale then chestnut-brown, shining, equal in length. Lower glume cartilaginous, obscurely 7–9-nerved, glabrous and finely scaberulous below; upper glume cartilaginous on the back with thinner margins, 3-nerved, truncate-obtuse. Lower lemma much shorter, hyaline, nerveless, obtuse, sterile, without a palea. Fertile lemma linear stipe-like, firm, passing into the awn, bisexual, without a palea; awn 4–6 cm long, geniculate about the middle, the column pubescent, the bristle scabrous. Pedicellate spikelets male or neuter, variously reduced, on pedicels c. 3 mm long, acuminate, 7–9 mm long; lower glume firm, striate, c. 9-nerved; upper glume a little shorter, 3-nerved, acuminate, the margins inflexed and softly and sparsely ciliate; lower lemma hyaline, 1-nerved, much shorter than the glumes, without a palea; upper floret absent.
Flowering: mostly spring and summer.
Distribution and occurrence: Widespread in a variety of habitats.
NSW subdivisions: NC, CC, SC, NT, CT, ST, NWS, CWS, SWS, NWP, SWP, NFWP, SFWP
Other Australian states: Qld Vic. Tas. W.A. S.A. N.T.
T. australis was once a dominant tussock grass over much of eastern Australia but does not compete well under heavy grazing and has been out-competed by other grasses.
Text by Jacobs, S.W.L., Whalley, R.D.B. & Wheeler, D.J.B.
Taxon concept: Grasses of New South Wales, Fourth Edition (2008).
APNI* Provides a link to the Australian Plant Name Index (hosted by the Australian National Botanic Gardens) for comprehensive bibliographic data
***The AVH map option provides a detailed interactive Australia wide distribution map drawn from collections held by all major Australian herbaria participating in the Australian Virtual Herbarium project.