Hard Tussock

Festuca novae-zealandiae

(previously known as Festuca ovina ssp. novae-zealandiae and Festuca ovina var. novae-zealandiae)

Hard Tussock

ABOUT:
This tussock still holds strong connection to the kiwi landscape, epitomising iconic kiwi back-country farms.
There is no recognised traditional Māori use.

IDENTIFY:     
40cm x 40cm. A dense-clumping grass that performs its best in dry, windy and cold situations. Leaf blades are straw-coloured and tightly rolled, feeling rough to the touch.

USE:
A bold-accent tussock, best planted in groups and as the only grass in the planting. The pale leaves accentuate sunlight and frosts, and are offset well when planted in front of darker plants.

PLANT:
Very low maintenance, requiring low humidity, full sun and dry, poor soil. Tolerates a little shade, and some moisture. Does fine on sand dunes. Keep planted back from where lawnmowers can get caught up in the leaves.

SIMILAR TO:     
Buggar Grass (Austrostipa stipoides) – 75cm x 50cm. Coastal, upright, tightly-rolled leaves are smooth but sharp-ended.
Red Tussock (Chionochloa rubra) – 1m x 1m. Leaves have a reddish hue when grown in full sun. Leaves are flat or folded.
Silver Tussock (Poa cita) – 80cm x 80cm. Leaves are smooth, and greener toward the base.

ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE:
Seeds are an important food source for a native flightless fly, Diplotoxa moorei. Insects attracted to this grass, as well as the camouflage it provides support gecko habitat.
An important tussock to maintain ground stability in high-gradient subalpine grazing zones, alongside others such as Poa colensoi and Poa laevis.

MORE INFO:
Taranaki Educational Resource – Festuca novae-zelandiae
NZ Plant Conservation Network – Festuca novae-zelandiae

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