Chilean Needle Grass

Chilean needle grass is a pest plant listed in our Regional Pest Management Plan as an exclusion plant. Pest plants in the exclusion category are present in New Zealand but not in the Horizons Region.

What is it?

Chilean needle grass is an erect tussock-like perennial grass that can grow up to 1m in height with purple tinged, spiky heads and lime green leaves.
When it is seeding between October and March, seeds have a sharp needle like tip with a long twisting awn and have backward-pointing bristles which make them hard to remove once they are embedded in people or animals.

Where is it found?

Chilean needle grass is currently found in the Hawke’s Bay Region and while it currently isn’t present in the Horizons Region, we want farmers and contractors to be aware it could be brought into the region if precautions aren’t taken. It is also present in Marlborough and Canterbury in the South Island.

There is a controlled area in Hawke's Bay where Chilean needle grass is present. For more information about this visit the Hawke's Bay Regional Council website.

Why is it bad?

Chilean needle grass is extremely difficult to remove once it establishes in an area.
Farmers will be unable to graze paddocks for up to five months of the year, the seeds have needle sharp tips and a tail mechanism allowing it to drill through fleece and into muscle. This can cause painful abscesses for animals, and can lead to downgrading of pelts, meat, or wool.

How do I prevent it getting onto my property?

Any stock, machinery, vehicles and hay moving between the Hawke’s Bay Region, particularly the Chilean needle grass controlled area, and the Horizons Region should be checked over and cleaned properly. This will help prevent the spread into our region.

What do I do if I find it?

If you think you have seen this invasive pest plant, please promptly contact our biosecurity pest plant team on freephone 0508 800 800.

Where can I find more information?

You can visit the Agpest website for more information on Chilean needle grass.
The Chilean Needle Grass Awareness Programme, managed by Environment Canterbury, has created a guide which has helpful information about Chilean needle grass.

Chilean needle grass guide