Parramatta Grass, Rat’s Tail, Tufty Grass, African Dropseed Grass, Indian Rat’s Tail Grass, or Tussock Grass
 

Parramatta Grass (Sporobolus africanus).

 

Parramatta Grass aka Rat’s Tail, and Tussock Grass is a tough perennial tussock grass that grows to a height of 50–70 cm and reproduces from seed.

After you finish reading this, you will be able to:

  • Identify Parramatta Grass or Rat’s Tail.
  • Know what conditions favour Parramatta Grass.
  • Know the best cultural and chemical options to control Parramatta Grass or Tussock Grass.

 

Rat’s Tail is spread rapidly by vehicle traffic, wind and flood water. It grows rapidly, is frost and drought resistant, and produces approximately 80,000 seeds per plant.

  • Is a weed in wet areas such as over watered turf, roadsides and waste areas.
  • It emerges all year round when soil moisture and temperatures are suitable. Spring and Summer is when most seedlings appear.
  • Produces large quantities of seed that readily disperse, and the soil seed bank can build up quickly. Seeds are viable for a long time.
  • Tussock Grass grows in lower rainfall areas, but is most common in areas with an average annual rainfall above 700 mm per year.

 

More information on common lawn weeds is in our weed ID chart. What they reveal about soil conditions is in our blog on indicator weeds. Rat’s Tail is an Indication of soil compaction.

 
 
 
 

How to Identify Parramatta Grass.

Category: Grass

Flower: The flowers are green or grey.

Height: Stems grow up to 50cm in height.
Leaf length: The leaves are up to 20 cm long.

Leaf width: The leaves are up to 6 mm wide

Reproduction: Seeds are spread in soil on machinery and vehicles. The seeds are sticky when wet, and then stick to animals and clothing. Rat’s Tail produces up to 60,000 seeds per square metre, and estimates of the soil seed bank have put it at up to 600-4,000 seeds/m2.

Parramatta Grass does not disperse by wind, and even though the seed is small, most seed falls within 2 to 3 m of the seeding plant.

Comments: Rat’s Tail has very tough, smooth and glabrous, dark green leaves. These are mainly around the base, and are slender and stiff, with in-rolled margins. Where the blade meets the stem, the leaf sheath rolls around the stem.

Habitat: Parramatta Grass mostly grows in areas with a moderate to high rainfall. It favours compact soils, and invades low maintenance turf areas.

 

 
 

 

 

How to remove Parramatta Grass from your lawn.

Cultural control is the best option to control Parramatta Grass in lawns and turfgrass.
 

Cultural control.

Preventing the spread of Parramatta Grass seed is the most effective way to control this weed.

Daily fluctuations of temperature and exposure to light stimulate seed germination. This means that maintaining a full turf cover reduces these fluctuations, and helps prevent germination. Any bare areas or thin turf will increase seed germination.

Parramatta Grass can be controlled by hand removing small plants if there are not too many. However, you must bag the seed head first to prevent seed dispersal. Slashing or Whipper smipping before you use a herbicide can also pay dividends.

The key is to try to manage this before it seeds.

  • Dig out the plant, and try to minimize soil disturbance.
  • Immedaitely place the entire plant in a sealed bag. Remove this off site asap.
  • Regularly re-check the site for new plants.

As it favours compact soils, soil aeration can also help manage this. Also, bare in mind that keeping N up to your turfgrass helps deter this weed.

 
 

Chemical control.

 
There are a very limited number of turf herbicides that control Parramatta Grass. Post emergent wise for small infestations use glyphosate. If you use glyphostae be aware that it is Non-selective and kills everything it touches. If water quality is an issue (high water pH) then we recommend the use of ProForce Manta Ray Adjuvant.
 
 
Pre-emergent herbicides like Barricade and ProForce Onset 10GR are also very effective in stopping this weed.
 
 
 
A 2011 trial into the control of Parramatta grass looked at a herbicide programme of MSMA plus Tribute followed by a further application of Tribute. The best results occur in the warmer months of the year, although this only suppresses Parramatta grass. Full control was not achieved. Tribute Herbicide and MSMA are not currently registered for Parramatta Grass control.