Perennial Mission Grass is well-established across the Top End of the Northern Territory. Its stronghold is in the Darwin-Daly region, but it is also found in north-east Arnhem Land, on the Tiwi Islands and as far south as Daly Waters. Originally from tropical Africa, it was brought to Australia as a pasture species that is palatable when young or well-fertilized, and because of its ability to colonise disturbed sites. Though officially released in Queensland, its escape into the wild in the Northern Territory at Berrimah in the 1970s was apparently accidental.
A coloniser of disturbed sites, Perennial Mission Grass occurs along roads and tracks, but is less abundant in the more extensive landscape. Its main impact is through its high fuel loads, which are substantially greater than those of most native grasses. Mainland species that could be threatened by fires fuelled by Perennial Mission Grass include the woodland plants Armstrong's Cycad and Glenluckie Helicteres, and plants growing at the edge of monsoon rainforests, such as the Malaxis ground orchid. On the Tiwi Islands, Perennial Mission Grass is a potential threat to Butler's Dunnart, particularly if it results in incineration of the logs and litter in which the dunnarts shelter. By both altering the habitat and obstructing the visibility of ground-dwelling prey, Perennial Mission Grass may reduce food available to Masked Owl, both on the Tiwi Islands and the mainland.
Perennial Mission Grass is a declared weed in the Northern Territory, where its growth and spread must be controlled. It is listed as a high impact weed in the Field Guide to Assessing Australia’s Tropical Riparian Zones and a Key Threatening Process to biodiversity in Northern Australia.
Recommended practices include keeping machinery free of Mission Grass seed to prevent spread beyond infested areas; not using Mission Grass in hay; containing existing large areas; and eradicating small outlying infestations. Individual clumps of Mission Grass can be dug out with a hoe or mattock. Effective control is achieved by burning Mission Grass before flowering in the early dry season, followed by glyphosate application early in the following wet season.
- This Weed Risk Assessment for <i>Pennisetum polystachion</i> uses the Australian Weed Risk Assessment Scheme to assess the likelihood of introduced plants becoming a pest.
- This profile of Mission Grass (perennial) <i>Pennisetum polystachion</i>on FAO's Ecoport Web Site, provides information on the appearance, distribution, ecology, status and use of the species. Links are provided to maps, illustrations and other resources. Information is incomplete for many species, but is being continually upgraded.
- This identification guide, on the Weeds Australia Web Site, includes photos, a description of the plant, notes on its distinguishing features and its dispersal ability, and a map of its current and potential distribution
- PIER Profile for Mission Grass <i>Pennisetum polystachion</i>. If available, includes Species description; Habitat/ecology; Propagation; Distribution; Information sources; Illustrations; Weed Risk Assessment
- This web page, on the Australian Government Weeds web site, provides information on Mission Grass, Pennisetum polystachion: What it looks like, how to manage it, and links to resources.
- Provides information about the species' current distribution, fuel loads, management approaches and costs to the community.