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Natural populations

Poa labillardieri is a dense perennial tussock grass, endemic to southern and eastern Australia [7]. It is common in open forests particularly in moister areas on southern slopes or in gullies and along watercourses, on loamy soils [38, 39]. There are two varieties differentiated by leaf and sheath characteristics and flowering times, var. acris and var. labillardieri [7].

Flowering and seeds

Plants flower and set seed in spring – summer. The dry one seeded fruits, grouped in terminal inflorescences, should be collected when firm and cream coloured and then dried to release seeds [93]. Poa can be germinated with no pre-treatment or may be treated by cold stratification for plants growing in colder climates [90]. It establishes well from direct seeding where weed competition is not a problem [38], sown in autumn [93].

Cultivation and uses

Poa grass was used by Aborigines as a fibre source to make string for nets and for bags, baskets and mats and it makes for an attractive rockery plant [38]. The plants are an important food source and provide habitat for wildlife.

Key descriptors:
Var. labillardieri:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 400-2500 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: summer, uniform or winter
Mean annual temperature: 7-18 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 15-32 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: -3-9 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 0-1400 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: clay loam, heavy clay (greater than 50% clay), light to medium clay (35-50% clay) or loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
Soil depth: skeletal to shallow (less than 30 cm) or moderate to deep (30-100 cm or greater)
Tolerance of adverse soils
Extremes in texture: clayey
Biological traits under cultivation
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: fast
Root system: shallow and spreading
Erosion control potential: excellent for clayey sites

Var. acris:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 700-3000 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: winter
Mean annual temperature: 2-11 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 15-22 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: -3-4 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 100-1300 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam
Soil depth: skeletal to shallow (less than 30 cm)
Drainage: well-drained
Biological traits under cultivation
Longevity: short-lived less than 15 years
Growth rate: fast
Root system: shallow and spreading

References

[7] Sharp D, Simon BK (2002) AusGrass: Grasses of Australia. CD-ROM, Version 1.0., Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra, and Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland.

[38] Mitchell M, Miller M (1990) The identification of some common native grasses in Victoria - a set of compilation notes. Rutherglen Research Institute, Victoria.

[39] Burbidge N (1984) Australian Grasses (Volume 1): Australian Capital Territory and Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

[90] Flynn S, Turner RM, Dickie JB (2004) Seed Information Database (Release 7.0, October 2006). (Online database) http://www.kew.org/data/sid/ (Accessed: July 2007).

[93] Bonney N (2003) What Seed Is That? A guide to the identification, collection, germination and establishment of native plant species for central southern Australian landscapes. Neville Bonney, Tantanoola.

Internet links

PlantNet NSW Flora Online – species description & distribution: http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=in&name=Poa~labillardierei~var.+labillardierei

South Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution: http://www.flora.sa.gov.au/cgi-bin/texhtml.cgi?form=speciesfacts&family=Gramineae&genus=Poa&species=labillardieri

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