Parwan grasslands

austrostipa Spear grass (Austrostipa spp.) grows vigouressly in spring and the needle sharp seeds mature in summer.

The volcanic plains grasslands of Victoria have decline by at least 98% since white settlement and have been listed as critically endangered under the commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  Parwan is home to some fine grasslands and these are a special focus of a number of Parwan Landcare members. The rain shadow cast by the Brisbane Ranges results in a low annual rainfall (less than 500 mm) and this with hot summers, cold winters and red cracking clay soils favours grasslands over woodlands and spear grass over kangaroo grass. One area where kangaroo grass still dominates is close to the railway line where periodic fires over the past century have kept the grass tussocks open and healthy. Fires have also maintained open spaces between the grass tussocks so a wide variety of wildflowers have persisted over the years and now flourish with careful management.

More information about these grassland Ecological Communities can be found at:
Nationally Threatened Ecological Communities of the Victorian Volcanic Plain: Natural Temperate Grassland & Grassy Eucalypt Woodland

Kangaroo grass flower

Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra) has a distintive leafy seed head and grows mostly over the summer months. This grass grows widely throughout Australia.

Kangaroo grass plant

This young kangaroo grass is thriving in the absence of competition. It will take on a beautiful rusty purple tinge as it matures.

Sea of grass

With good soil moisture levels over the spring growing season this paddock is a sea of spear grass. Wildflowers and native forbes are crowded out when the grasses become this rank.

After fire

Native grasses will be rejuvinated on this recently burnt stony rise and wildflowers will thrive in the spaces opened between the grass tussocks.

Native tobacco after fire

Leafy clumps of Austral tobacco quick to take advantage of newly burnt grassland. This plant is more at home on the Parwan escarpment but the fine seeds are blown onto adjacent grassland.

Austral tobacco

Austral tobacco (Nicotiana suaveolens) contains a toxic alkaloid reported to be used as a narcotic by the aborigines in much the same way as pituri from central Australia. The leaves were probably chewed with acacia ash to release the alkaloid.