Fountain grass

Fountain grass is a declared Class B and Class C weed.

Another name for this plant is Cenchrus setaceus.

Fountain grass - infestation 


You should use this as a guide. There may be other plants or weeds that look similar.

If you are unsure, contact the Weed Management Branch.


These features describe the habit of this plant:

  • perennial grass
  • up to 1.5m high.

Fountain grass - habit 

Stems and branches

These features can identify the stems and branches:

  • densely tufted.

Fountain grass - stems and branches 


These features can identify the leaves:

  • long narrow leaf blade
  • 0.4cm wide and 60cm long
  • small directed teeth on the leaf margins and upper surface
  • coarse and rough, of little value for feed.

Fountain grass - leaves 


These features can identify the flowers:

  • pink to purple
  • 6 to 30cm long.

Fountain grass - flowers 

Fruit and seeds

These features can identify the fruit and seeds:

  • cylindrical seed head
  • spikelets up to 0.7cm long
  • surrounded at the base by white to purplish, feather-like bristles
  • bristles mostly 1.5 to 2.6cm long and one growing up to 4cm long.

Fountain grass - fruit and seeds 


Fountain grass is a highly invasive grass that out-competes native vegetation. It is used as an ornamental grass in gardens and along roadsides. It is a weed of pastures, railway corridors and roads interstate.

Fountain grass can have all of the following impacts:

  • forms dense stands that exclude other plants
  • not good for grazing due to its coarse rough leaves.

Habitat and distribution

Fountain grass is a native of northern and eastern Africa and south-western Asia.

Fountain grass can grow in tropical to semi-arid areas and can live for up to 20 years. It prefers open, dry habitats, particularly rocky areas but can also grow in sandy soils.

You should destroy any garden planting in the NT to avoid the weed spreading.

Spread prevention

The seed is spread by wind, vehicles, humans, livestock and animals. Seeds can stay viable in the soil for at least seven years.

Several wild fountain grass populations have been detected and subsequently destroyed in central Australia. 

It is imperative that deliberate garden plantings do not ‘escape’ into the wild.

You can prevent the spread of fountain grass by doing all of the following:

  • map infestations to help develop a management plan
  • control minor infestations, isolated outbreaks or seedlings first
  • designate wash down areas and actively work to prevent contamination of clean areas
  • monitor areas that you have treated and watch for re-infestations.

Fountain grass - spread 


Chemical control

The best time to treat fountain grass is from December to March. Below is a list of treatment methods that can be used.

Chemical and concentration Rate Situation, method and notes
Glyphosate 360 g/L
Various trade names and formulations
10mL / 1 L Seedling or adult (individuals or infestation):
Foliar spray – apply when actively growing

Non-chemical control

Hand pulling and grubbing

Weeds, including their roots, are physically pulled out of the ground by hand or using hand tools. 

This is an effective method of control for individual weeds and recent outbreaks that haven’t released seeds yet, but it requires a lot of labour.

Last updated: 28 November 2017