Bunched kerosene grass (Aristida contorta) in the Western Australian rangelands

Page last updated: Tuesday, 6 July 2021 - 4:09pm

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Bunched kerosene grass (Aristida contorta) 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.

Other common names

Kerosene grass, bunched kerosene grass, bunched windgrass, windgrass, silvergrass, mulga grass, sand speargrass, sand wiregrass.

Indicator value

Where dominant in grassland, bunched kerosene grass is an indicator of poor pasture condition. It has no indicator value in the shrublands. It is a normal component of grassland pastures in rocky soils and may be grazed along with other more-palatable plants, but is generally considered to be an undesirable species. The plant tends to be an increaser because it has low palatability and will therefore increase relative to more-desirable perennial grasses which decline under heavy grazing.

Forage value

Bunched kerosene grass grows rank very quickly on sandy soils and is unlikely to be grazed. It has limited forage value in soils with some moisture retaining capacity.


Red soils and rocky soils.

General description

Bunched kerosene grass is a sparse, erect, short-lived perennial grass with a wind-swept appearance, growing to 30cm tall and forming loose tussocks. The leaves are tightly rolled and tend to curl or twist with age. The seeds occur in long, narrow seed heads to 60cm long. Each seed has 3 slender unequal awns attached by a spirally twisted column to the seed spike which has a sharp point. The awns can be up to 6cm long.