Chilean Needle Grass

South America

General description

Erect, tufted, perennial grass < 1 m high. Leaves are < 5 mm wide. Flowerheads are large, drooping and purplish. Seed head is hard and hairy, and has pointed callus with a very sharp, penetrating base. Seeds have long hair.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Chilean needle grass. As Chilean needle grass is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant Chilean needle grass within the Auckland region.
Auckland Council will control Chilean needle grass at all sites where it is known to occur.

If you see Chilean needle grass anywhere in the Auckland region, please report it to Auckland Council at

Pasture, grasslands, roadsides, open areas, cliffs, lake and forest margins, lawns.

Seeds dispersed by attachment to livestock. Human-mediated dispersal through movement of contaminated machinery, clothing and hay.

Highly invasive in pasture and sharp seeds can penetrate pelts and cause blindness in livestock.

Site Management

Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species. Please report to Auckland Council.

CAUTION: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Similar species

nassella tussock
Nassella trichotoma

The awn (the long bristle-like appendage extending from the end of the seed) 2 to 3.5 cm in N. trichotoma and 6 to 9 cm long in N. neesiana.

Mexican feather grass
Nassella tenuissima

Mexican feather grass has much finer leaves. The awn (the long bristle-like appendage extending from the end of the seed) is 4.5 to 9 cm long in N. tenuissima and 6 to 9 cm long in N. neesiana.

RPMP status

National Pest Plant Accord Species
Whole region (Eradication)
Chilean needle grass - Main species image