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Fountain Grass

Fountain Grass
Photo: Immij
Invasive Plant
Fountain Grass
Pennisetum setaceum

A tall perennial grass, forming tufts to 1 m high. Arching, thin, leathery leaves 20–30 cm long with prominent veins running lengthways. Flowers are small and occur in pink or purple, bristly, upright spikes at the ends of bamboo-like canes. Fruit are small and dry with long, showy bristles.



  • Seeds are readily spread by humans, wind, animals and water. It is commonly seen along roadsides, displaces natives and increases fire risk.
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Additional suggested alternatives: elegant spear grass (Austrostipa elegantissima), soft spear grass (Austrostipa mollis),  switch grass  (Panicum cultivars such as 'Rubrum' and 'Heavy Metal'), lemon grass (Cymbopogon ambiguus), wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia fulva), kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra).


Alternative Plants

Blue Flax Lily, Paroo
Photo: Macbird Floraprint
Alternative Plant Blue Flax Lily, Paroo
Dianella species and hybrids

There are 15 species of Dianella found across Australia. These hardy plants with fine strap-like leaves to 0.6 m high have blue, purple or white star-shaped flowers which appear in spring and summer. Flowers are followed by decorative blue berries containing shiny black seeds. Ask your garden centre for advice about the best Dianellas for your garden.

Common tussock grass
Photo: Nursery & Garden Industry South Australia
Alternative Plant Common tussock grass
Poa labillardieri
Poa labillardieri is a perennial cool season grass bearing beautiful fine greenish/blue foliage with an upright to arching form. Depending on aspect and soil, Poa labillardieri grows from 30 to 80 cm tall. Delicate plume like flowerheads in spring to summer extend above the foliage up to 1.2 metres.  Poa is ideal for softening hard surfaces and for colour contrasting with other plants. Poa grows in full sun put prefers up to 50% shade and is suited to mild coastal conditions. Inland it will handle dry and cold to –10ºC with heavy frost. Trim back foliage in April every year to approx 200 to 300mm above the ground to remove last season’s foliage. A popular cultivar, used extensively in public landscapes is 'Eskdale'.
Purple Fountain Grass
Photo: Colourwise Nursery
Alternative Plant Purple Fountain Grass
Pennisetum advena 'Rubrum'

This sterile hybrid is a showy and popular ornamental perennial grass. It grows rapidly in dense clumps of burgundy coloured foliage up to 1.5 m high with arching purple-pink flower plumes in summer. The blooms are foxtail-like, are displayed above the foliage and produced in warm weather. A very hardy grass species that can tolerate periods of drought and light frosts.

Spiny-headed Mat-rush
Photo: Macbird Floraprint
Alternative Plant Spiny-headed Mat-rush
Lomandra longifolia

This is a small tufted perennial rush with long strap-like green leaves to 1 m. A tall, slender, yellow flower spike appears from the leaf base in the early growing season and persists for many weeks. As the spike matures, the structure is replaced by a tan, fruit-bearing shaft, composed of attractive clusters of small nutlets. This species is extremely hardy and tolerant of climatic extremes and most soil conditions. Widely grown for soil stabilisation. There are various smaller and more compact forms available such as Lomandra longifolia 'Tanika' and Lomandra confertifolia Little Con'.

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