Common Name: Snow grasses, wallaby grasses
Description: Tufted perennials, usually forming coarse tussocks.
Leaves with ligule a rim of hairs; blade folded or flat, often deeply grooved, margins scabrous.
Inflorescence an open panicle.
Spikelets flattened, disarticulating above the glumes, with 3–8 bisexual florets. Glumes 1–5-nerved, longer than the lemmas but shorter than the spikelet. Lemmas usually 7-nerved, distinctly 2-lobed with the lobes usually short-awned and longer than or equal to the lemma body; central awn a prolongation of the middle nerve, bent and twisted at the base, exceeding the lateral lobes; lemma back usually with scattered hairs 1–2 mm long; callus hairy. Palea hairy or glabrous; keels ciliate.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 21 species, Australia & New Zealand. Australia: 2 species (native), N.S.W., Vic.
These grasses mostly grow in alpine or upland areas and provide valuable summer grazing, catchment and slope protection, and animal shelter. Key based on Wheeler et al. (1990).
Text by S. W. L. Jacobs & S. M. Hastings
Taxa not yet included in identification key
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Sheath of basal leaves 1 cm wide and flattened, persisting around the base of the tussock; palea glabrous on the back between the keels; central awn only slightly twisted; anthers yellow-orange; an alpine or subalpine grass||Chionochloa frigida|
|Sheath of basal leaves neither flattened nor broad; palea pilose or pubescent in the lower part of the back; central awn twisted at the base for several mm; anthers orange-red; a grass of upland soils of low fertility||Chionochloa pallida|