RAT’S TAIL WEED
(Photos : C. Schultz, growth habit and flower spikes, at Cape Jervis)
A perennial grass of the tussock variety, this weed originated in sub-Saharan Africa. It is quite invasive in our climate, spreading via small brown seeds. Unlike the Sporobolus virginicus (saltwater couch), this plant is erect and up to 60cm tall, with fairly thin but stiff stems. Leaves are also slender, stiff and not hairy. These leaves tend to grow about 18cm long from the base of the plant, and the sides roll in a bit. It is the flower heads that give the plant its common name though. These are spikes, grey-green against the dark green of the leaves. 35mm long and 7mm wide, densely packed with lots of teensy individual branches around the stem… you can understand why they are called rat’s tails!