Rytidosperma caespitosum (Gaudich.) Connor & Edgar

Common Wallaby-grass

New Zealand J. Bot. 17: 325 (1979) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Native

Variable tufted perennial. Culms to 90 cm high. Leaves glabrous to (more commonly) hairy; blade flat to inrolled, to 30 cm long and mostly 1–3 mm wide. Panicle lanceolate, mostly dense, occasionally open and conspicuously branched or reduced to a few spikelets, mostly 3–8 cm long. Spikelets usually purplish when young, mostly 6–9-flowered; glumes subequal, acute, 14–24 mm long; lemma narrow, usually 3.5–5.5 mm long, with 2 rows of hairs, the lower 1–1.5 mm above the callus hair-tuft; lateral lobes erect, c. 7–15 mm long, acuminate, the flat part typically rather broad and abruptly tapering to the setae which are generally longer than the flat part; central awn exceeding lateral lobes by 4–10 mm; palea narrow-lanceolate, membranous and shallowly notched at apex, exceeding the sinus by 1.5–2.5 mm. Flowers mainly Sep.–Dec.

Brid, CVU, DunT, EGL, EGU, GipP, Glep, Gold, GGr, HNF, HSF, LoM, MonT, MuF, MuM, MSB, NIS, OtP, OtR, RobP, SnM, Strz, VAlp, VRiv, VVP, WaP, WPro, Wim. Also WA, SA, NSW, ACT, Tas. Occurring across a wide geographical and environmental range, but not abundant in the alps, tall-forest areas or saline environments.

A form from swamps in the far south-west (lower Glenelg River and Dergholm areas) is distinctive in having strongly purplish glumes, lemmas with short lateral lobes barely exceeding the stout, twisted part of the central awn and frequently, the lemma body with scattered hairs between the rows.

A coastal variant (known from Anglesea, Frankston area, Phillip Is. and south Gippsland east to near Sale) is distinguished in having rather stiff, smooth, glabrous and variably glaucous foliage, often with reddish sheaths, and lemmas with a relatively long upper series of hairs and lateral lobes which taper evenly from the base to the setiform part.

Apart from these apparently distinct forms, the degree of adaptability to different environmental conditions is equalled by the variability shown in most features of this species and specimens which appear to be intermediate between Rytidosperma caespitosum and other species are not uncommon. These apparent intermediates most commonly approach R. setaceum, R. erianthum, R. tenuius, R. indutum and R. racemosum respectively in approximate order of frequency on herbarium specimens. A critical assessment of the R. caespitosum complex is required to evaluate the taxonomic status of the forms outlined above (and undoubtedly other forms as yet undetected).

Recently, R. robertsoniae Tiver has been segragated from R. caespitosum, see profile for the former species for comparison between the two species.

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1994). Poaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 2, Ferns and Allied Plants, Conifers and Monocotyledons. Inkata Press, Melbourne (as Danthonia caespitosa Gaudich.).
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2020-02-25

Tiver, F. (2020). Rytidosperma robertsoniae (Poaceae), a new species from southern Australia , Swainsona 33: 31-42.

Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Lilianae
order Poales
family Poaceae
genus Rytidosperma
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Rytidosperma caespitosum in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Rytidosperma caespitosum in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Lowan Mallee present native
Murray Mallee present native
Wimmera present native
Glenelg Plain present native
Bridgewater present native
Victorian Volcanic Plain present native
Victorian Riverina present native
Murray Scroll Belt present native
Robinvale Plains present native
Murray Fans present native
Gippsland Plain present native
Otway Plain present native
Warrnambool Plain present native
Goldfields present native
Central Victorian Uplands present native
Greater Grampians present native
Dundas Tablelands present native
Northern Inland Slopes present native
East Gippsland Lowlands present native
East Gippsland Uplands present native
Wilsons Promontory present native
Highlands-Southern Fall present native
Highlands-Northern Fall present native
Otway Ranges present native
Strzelecki Ranges present native
Monaro Tablelands present native
Victorian Alps present native
Snowy Mountains present native

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory