Barley Mitchell grass (Astrebla pectinata) in the Western Australian rangelands

Page last updated: Wednesday, 19 May 2021 - 9:34am

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Barley Mitchell grass (Astrebla pectinata) is one of many plant species found in the Western Australian rangelands.

This page provides a summary of the plant's value for pastoralism. Pastoral lessees and station managers can use this information to assess pasture condition and trend.

Indicator value

Where dominant, barley Mitchell grass is an indicator of good pasture condition. It is a desirable species and tends to be a decreaser under heavy grazing pressure.

Forage value

Barley Mitchell grass is moderately palatable to livestock and is said to have good fattening qualities. The grass can withstand drought and grazing, to some extent, and produces an abundance of fodder. Young seedlings are susceptible to being pulled out of friable soils by grazing cattle.


Black soil group (PDF 5.7MB) in the Kimberley.

General description

Barley Mitchell grass is an erect perennial grass that can grow to 20–100cm tall, forming dense, leafy tussocks with a knotty butt covered in shining scales. The leaves are long, narrow and flat, but tend to become curly and twisted with age. The seeds occur in single seed heads 7–8cm long with paired rows of seeds. The seed heads resemble those of the true barley plant.

Contact information

Kath Ryan
+61 (0)8 9166 4015
Matthew Fletcher
+61 (0)8 9166 4019