Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 4, 1871
This text is also available in PDF
(2 MB) Opens in new window
– 292 –

Art. L.—Report of a Committee of the Canterbury Philosophical Institute on Native and Introduced Grasses.

[Submitted to the Philosophical Institute of Canterbury, 5th April, 1871.]

In presenting to this Society their report, your Committee have to express regret that in some respects their labours have not been crowned with the success they anticipated, more especially as regards native grasses.

As a first step in the prosecution of the task allotted to them, your Committee resolved on taking in hand the subject of native grasses, as being, besides its intrinsic importance, that on which information was most deficient. To facilitate the collection of such information, they prepared a printed list of such native grasses as appeared to them most valuable (33 in number), with a series of questions in a shape conveniently arranged for the insertion of the required answers. These questions referred mainly to the locality, altitude, and peculiarities of soil in which each grass is found. Its season of flowering or seeding, its feeding value in different seasons of the year, the special circumstances affecting its growth, its power of resisting drought and frost, its comparative feeding properties, and how it is relished by different kinds of stock, its increase or the reverse since the settlement of the country and the cause thereof, and generally any other information that could be furnished.

A large number of these papers, accompanied by a printed circular, setting forth the objects your Committee had in view, were distributed amongst gentlemen who were thought likely to take an interest in the subject, both in this and the other provinces of New Zealand.

One serious obstacle in the way of acquiring the desired information did not fail to present itself to your Committee, namely, their inability, save in a very few cases, to give any but the botanical names of the native grasses. This they feared would prove an insurmountable difficulty to many persons who would otherwise willingly respond to their inquiries. Their anticipations on this head have proved but too correct.

To lessen this impediment so far as lay in their power, your Committee in some instances, therefore, where from the presumed pursuits and studies of the persons addressed they believed it advisable, added a special communication, of which the following is an extract:—

“The Committee in preparing a list of grasses have had a difficulty in giving the common names, and as many observers of grasses may not be able to recognise them under their scientific nomenclature, it is desirable that the English and Maori names should be added where practicable. Believing that you will be able to assist them in this object, the Committee will feel obliged

– 293 –

by your attaching the common names to the inclosed list, and returning it at your earliest convenience.”

In short, your Committee asked generally for the assistance of all persons interested in the furtherance of the important subject they had undertaken.

The answers to the appeal of your Committee were but very few, and those contained (with one important exception to be afterwards referred to) only expressions of regret at being unable to furnish the information asked for. The only information received as to the common names, either English or Maori, was from Mr. Colenso, of Hawkes Bay, who states that, “As to the Maori names of grasses (in the printed list), the smaller ones are all known as Patiti; No. 3, Hierochloe redolens, has a separate name, and is called Karetu.”

Your Committee, in expressing themselves as above, do not wish to be understood as implying censure on any of the gentlemen to whom they addressed themselves, for apathy in the matter, for they have reason to believe that in most cases the cause why the circulars were not returned was, that the settlers to whom they were sent were unable to identify the grasses by their technical names; and as the Committee, as before stated, were unable to give the common names in the circular, there thus arose almost a deadlock between the parties.

The above general statement of the course adopted and its results will, your Committee are convinced, go far towards indicating the causes of the imperfect success attained in that branch of the inquiry to which the Society attached peculiar interest, viz., the acquiring a more perfect knowledge of the properties of, and the best means of utilising, the indigenous grasses of the colony.

Before leaving this part of their report, your Committee wish, in connection with their native grass circulars, to advert particularly to the one exception before alluded to. That exception is a valuable contribution from Mr. Thomas Kirk, of Auckland. Besides returning the tabulated form with the desired replies as to the grasses therein named which are natives of Auckland, and giving additional information on other native grasses of that province not mentioned in your Committee's list, and some of which are probably peculiar to the North Island, Mr. Kirk accompanied his reply with some interesting specimens of indigenous grasses, and also a comprehensive and valuable paper on the progress and condition of exotic grasses in the province of Auckland. (Appendix A. to this Report.)

The dried specimens above mentioned consist of Microlœna stipoides, Zoysia pungens, Isachne australis, and Sporobolus elongatus, and came to hand in a good state of preservation.

In his letter accompanying these contributions, and addressed to the chairman of your Committee, Mr. Kirk, after many kindly expressions of interest

– 294 –

in the work on hand, and apologies for delay arising from severe illness, goes on to remark: “I have filled up the form as well as I could; for, as to the indigenous grasses of the province, you will observe that the most valuable kinds with you take but a secondary place here, whilst those of most service to us do not come so far south as Canterbury. I have added rough notes on the chief cultivated and naturalised grasses in this province (Auckland), as it is evident that good permanent pasture can not be made by native grasses alone, although several species are of great value when mixed with the ryegrasses, fescues, and meadow grasses of Europe.” Again: “Severe frosts are unknown north of the Auckland isthmus, and we have no hills so high as 3,000 feet even, except on the south and south-eastern extremity of the province, so that little can be said of the effects of frost on altitude.” Mr. Kirk concludes by courteously volunteering his further services in any way that can advance the work on hand, and asking your Committee to kindly send him in return specimens of any indigenous grasses of Canterbury—“especially,” he says, “those marked on your list, so as to ascertain any divergence in nomenclature.”

Your Committee, sensible of Mr. Kirk's ready kindness, desired their chairman to convey to that gentleman their thanks for, and great appreciation of, his valuable contributions. In addition to which, Mr. Armstrong (a member of your Committee), in comformity with his request, forwarded to him a selection of such specimens (35 in number) of the native grasses of Canterbury as he thought most desirable and acceptable, and has now an additional number in course of preparation.

The information given by Mr. Kirk your Committee strongly recommend should be printed in extenso, both on account of its intrinsic value, and because it chiefly refers to the province of Auckland, which is so far distant from Canterbury, that it is quite possible the same grasses may occupy different positions relatively in the two places.

Finally, Messrs. J. F. and J. B. Armstrong have furnished your Committee with a series of notes on 42 grasses indigenous to the province of Canterbury, which your Committee are persuaded will prove of great value and interest. (Appendix B. to this Report.)

At the commencement of this season, your Committee sent out a few circulars (with tabulated lists as before), requesting information upon 21 exotic grasses, and they are glad to be able to report that three of these have been returned, with much valuable information filled in. The Committee is indebted for these to Messrs. S.D. Glyde, M. Dixon, and J. C. Boys, three gentlemen who have had considerable experience in grasses.

To facilitate comparison, the replies and remarks furnished by the abovenamed gentlemen in the returned circulars have been thrown into a synoptical

– 295 –

form, and are presented in an Appendix, together with a series of observations by Mr. A. Duncan, one of the Committee, which your Committee anticipate will prove of much interest to the practical cultivator. (Appendix C. to this Report.)

During the season your Committee have collected, chiefly through the instrumentality of Mr. Armstrong, a large number of specimens of native and exotic grasses. These have all been named; and the native grasses, properly classified in frames, will be exhibited in the Museum, the Director having kindly made room for them in a position where they may be easily seen, and will thus afford a ready means to all who may take an interest in the subject, to familiarise themselves with the appearance and names of the indigenous grasses, and much facilitate future inquiries.

The specimens of exotic grasses are being arranged in books, which will be placed in cases, and, on application to the custodian, given out to any person who may be desirous of inspecting them; a list of these several grasses is submitted with the report.

In addition to these Mr. Armstrong has furnished a list of the naturalized grasses of Canterbury, which will be found in Appendix D. to this Report.

In conclusion, your Committee confidently hope that, although, from the limited amount of information they have been able to obtain, more particularly as regards the indigenous grasses, the result of their labours may seem but slight, it will, nevertheless, materially facilitate further inquiries should the Society, now or at any future time, determine on further prosecuting investigations, the object of which is the “adding to the wealth of the permanent pastures of the colony.”

Robert Wilkin

, Chairman.

Appendix A. (Part. I.)

Notes on Introduced Grasses in the Province of Auckland.—By T. Kirk, F.L.S.

Alopecurus pratensis, L. Meadow Fox-tail grass.—A grass of high value, yielding a large return of herbage of the first quality; very early, but continuous. Sparingly cultivated, although often found in grass paddocks, and naturalized in many places.

Phalaris Canariensis, L. Canary grass.—Occasionally cultivated for seed, but is naturalized from the North Cape to Upper Waikato, and in some places occurs so abundantly as to be cut or pulled for fodder early in the season. Grows quickly.

Phleum pratense, L. Timothy grass.—A valuable grass, attaining its greatest

– 296 –

luxuriance in the autumn, but affording a continuous yield; prefers moist soils, but has considerable power of adaptation.

Gastridium lendigerum, Beauv. Nit-grass.—Has been introduced with seeds of other grasses, and has become naturalized in many places. Yields a large quantity of seed, but comparatively little herbage.

Agrostis vulgaris, L. Common Bent.—Naturalized in many places, often found amongst cultivated grasses. Yields a large quantity of herbage, which attains its maximum before flowering. A valuable and hardy grass, although not affording such heavy yields as the Fiorin grass, A. alba b. stolonifera.

Holcus mollis, L.

" lanatus, L.

Soft Bent grasses.—Of no value to the cultivator, but, unhappily, having acquired the name of Soft Fescue in this province, the seed is collected and sown by inexperienced settlers, to their certain loss and disappointment.

Setaria italica, P. de Beauv.—A strong growing grass, affording an immense yield of coarse herbage and seed, has become naturalized in waste places, roadsides, etc., and is always eaten by cattle; prefers moist places.

Poa pratensis, L. Common Meadow grass.—If I were instructed to select the one most valuable grass as yet introduced into this province, my choice would fall upon this. It adapts itself to every variety of soil and situation—in shade in the Domain grounds it makes a dense sward, and gives a remarkably large yield—in the adjoining pasture it is of equal value—it grows freely on stiff clays, and may be seen “clearing-out” other grasses in scoria paddocks—affords a large yield of nutritious herbage—resists frost and drought. It is naturalized in many places in the province, is spreading freely, and would come into more general cultivation but for the difficulty experienced in obtaining clean seed.

P. annua, L.—Abundantly naturalized, yields a short but dense crop of rather watery herbage, which soon dies off. Of no value to the cultivator.

P. trivialis, L. Rough Meadow grass.—A valuable grass alike for pasturage and hay; flowers early, and is most nutritious when the seed is ripe. Very serviceable on shaded land and open forest. I have never seen it in cultivation in Auckland, although it is sparingly naturalized, but being closely cropped by cattle does not increase.

Briza minor, L. Small Quaking-grass.—An annual grass of little value, abundantly naturalized here, and yields a considerable quantity of light herbage in the early spring.

Dactylis glomerata, L. Cock's foot grass.—A rather coarse but nutritious grass, yielding a large return, and perhaps better than any other kind commonly sown in the north for resisting the attacks of caterpillar. It has the disadvantage, however, from its coarse growth, of killing off rye-grass, and

– 297 –

other weak growing kinds which may be sown with it. In the North it is usually relied upon for the staple, especially on bush paddocks.

Cynosurus cristatus, L. Crested Dog's-tail.—A valuable grass, especially for rather dry soils, and ought to be generally grown. Makes with Poa pratensis and Lolium perenne first-class pasturage on the scoria land about Auckland, and on ordinary soils in the Waikato.

Festuca, bromoides, L.—An annual grass, and abundantly naturalized, but of little value.

Festuca ovina, L. Sheep's Fescue.

" rubra, L. Reddish Sheep's Fescue.

Valuable grasses, especially on sheep-runs, but so rarely cultivated here as to form no appreciable portion of the pasturage.

Bromus erectus, Hud.

" commutatus, Schrad.

" mollis, L.

" racemosus, L.

Brome grasses.—Not cultivated here so far as I am aware, but naturalized to a greater or lesser degree, and eaten by cattle. B. commutatus is perhaps the most valuable. B. mollis is (on Dr. Schomburgh's authority) cultivated with advantage in South Australia, both for green fodder and hay.

Avena sativa, L. Oat.—Abundantly cultivated for green fodder, hay, and grain; naturalized in many parts of the province.

Lolium perenne, L. Rye-grass.—A well known and valuable grass, adapted to a wide range of soil and situation, but in the North apt to be destroyed by caterpillar. Commonly naturalized.

L. Italicum, A. Braun.—Occasionally cultivated with clover, etc., and sparingly naturalized. A valuable grass, but less capable of resisting drought and caterpillar than the last.

Cynodon Dactylon, Pers. Dog's-tooth.—Abundantly naturalized from the North Cape to Cambridge, and without question the best grass we have for resisting drought. Makes a compact sward, and is much eaten by cattle.

Anthoxanthum odoratum, L. Sweet Vernal grass.—Everywhere, both naturalized and cultivated. Grows quickly, affording a short but very dense crop; of most value early in the season. As is well known, imparts the peculiar fragrance to newly mown hay.

Eragrostis Brownii, Kunth.—An abundant naturalized grass at Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, producing a large quantity of slender herbage, which is greedily eaten by cattle. Chiefly grows amongst tea-tree, etc., and found also near Auckland, but not plentiful. I am inclined to think highly of this grass for cultivation in the North, but am doubtful as to its capability of resisting frost. Appears to prefer poor stiff clays, on which it attains great luxuriance.

– 298 –

Ceratochloa unioloides, P. de Beauv. Prairie grass.—Not cultivated in this province to any extent, but has become largely naturalized. Affords a very heavy yield, but on the whole appears better adapted for fodder than pasturage. When young it is eaten by cattle with avidity, but is usually passed over when old. Would probably possess greater value in Canterbury than in this province, as it roots deeply, and is able to endure a considerable amount of drought.

Stenotaphrum glabrum. Buffalo grass.—A smooth, stout-growing, procumbent grass; a great favourite with sheep, horses, and cattle, even when associated with rye-grasses and other ordinary cultivated kinds. It is rare here at present, but will, I anticipate, prove of great value, especially for planting on our clay tea-tree hills. At present it has not seeded freely, but may be expected to do so.

I regret my inability to give either native or settler's names of the native grasses, as requested. Very few indeed of our northern natives have any knowledge of the old native names, and my residence in the colony has been but short. Hierochloe redolens, and the more valuable Isachne australis, are alike called “Swamp-grass” by the settlers. Sporobolus elongatus is generally known as “Rat's-tail grass” as far south as Lake Taupo; but at Port Waikato it is called “Chilian-grass,” as it is erroneously supposed to have been introduced with the so-called “Chilian groundsel” Erigeron canadensis, a plant which appears to have been brought to this colony with grass seed from South America. I am not aware that other native grasses have received special names in this province, The common names for introduced grasses are applied in a somewhat arbitrary manner, which has occasionally proved a source of loss and vexation.

Several of the native-grasses, as Microlœna stipoides, Danthonia semiannularis, Agrostis æmula, etc., maintain their ground against, and unite with, several of the introduced kinds in the formation of natural pasture in many places in this province. The kinds just mentioned may often be seen mixed with Agrostis vulgaris, Anthoxanthum odoratum, etc., and especially with the little Yellow Suckling, Trifolium minus, forming large patches of gradually extending herbage amongst the tea-tree about Auckland. Some paddocks on the west side of the city appear to have been spontaneously formed in this way, although they have been improved by the depasturing of cattle.

The common red and white clovers, and the various medicks, with other forage plants, are largely naturalized in the province, and yield a large quantity of grateful food. On the volcanic hills about Auckland the toothed and spotted medicks, Medicago denticulata and M. maculata, yield largely in winter and early spring; the yarrow (Achillea Millefolium) is occasionally

– 299 –

met with, both as a naturalized and cultivated plant, and is closely cropped by sheep and cattle. The same may be said of the melilot, bird's-foot trefoil, wild-carrot, rib-grass, and several vetches.

It is probable that in the province of Canterbury native species of Liqusticum, Angelica, and other aromatic plants are sought after by cattle and sheep. In the northern part of this province we have no Ligusticum, and only one species of Angelica, A. rosœfolia, which is found in rocky places by the sea, rarely within reach of cattle; but Apium leptophyllum, Mentha Cunninghamii, Lepidium oleraceum, Daucus brachiatus, and other pungent and aromatic kinds are usually eaten with avidity. This suggests the advisability of improving permanent pasture by the addition of some of the wellknown condimental plants, as parsley, caraway, burnet, burnet-saxifrage, yarrow, black-medick, etc. The common parsley is abundantly naturalized in many places in Auckland, and everywhere greedily eaten. Attention is being more generally directed to these plants in England as supplying a felt want, and parsley, yarrow, fenugreek, etc., are regularly advertised by agricultural seedsmen.

Many valuable grasses, as the meadow fescues—Festuca pratensis, F. loliacea, F. elatior—some of the larger growing meadow grasses, as Poa, sudetica and P. serotina (the P. fertilis of seed-dealers), have not been introduced into this province at present. It is probable that Festuca pratensis and F. loliacea would largely supersede the rye-grass so commonly sown, as the yield both for pasturage and hay is fully equal, while the quality is more nutritious.*

Appendix A (Part II.)

Synopsis of Tabular Circular returned, with Information and Observations on sundry Indigenous Grasses named therein, and also on certain others not mentioned in the Circular. By T. Kirk, F.L.S., Auckland.

Gymnostichum gracile.—Found at Kaipara, etc., at sea-level; flowers in November; apparently local, and in comparatively small quantity.

* Hierochloe redolens. Tall sweet scented Holy-grass.—Found at sea-level on swampy ground; is useful as a spring and summer grass; not eaten when better kinds can be had.

* Panicum imbecille.—Found at sea-level to 1,500 feet in woodlands; continuously useful; like the last, not eaten when better kinds can be had.

* Echinopogon ovatus.—Found in waste lands and neglected cultivations; is useful in spring to autumn; flourishes in disturbed soil; useless for cattle.

[Footnote] * The species thus marked are amongst the commonest plants in the Province of Auckland.

– 300 –

* Dichelachne crinita.—Found in waste lands and neglected cultivations; useful in spring and autumn; flourishes in disturbed soil; a good grass for waste places, but inferior to many others.

Agrostis canina. Brown Bent grass.—Prefers moist soil; useful in summer and autumn; is affected by drought; a valuable grass for stock, and is increasing; only found in the Auckland district as a cultivated plant.

* Agrostis œmula.—Common at sea-level to 2,000 feet; flowers October to January; useful in spring and summer; affected by drought; is a serviceable grass, but less valuable than A. canina.

* Agrostis quadriseta.—Common at sea-level to 1,500 feet on rich land; flowers November to February; useful in spring and summer; affected by drought; is a serviceable grass, but also less valuable than A. canina, and produces less herbage.

Danthonia Cunninghamii. Snow-grass.—A local grass, found at sea-level to 1,200 feet on moist land; affected by drought.

* Danthonia semi-annularis.—Abundant at sea-level to 2,000 feet; flowers continuously, and prefers disturbed soil; is a valuable grass, and is increasing. The variety formerly known as D. cingula, is a useful grass, and appears to deserve the attention of the cultivator.

Trisetum antarticum. Oat-grass.—A local grass, widely distributed; found from sea-level to 1,500 feet in dry soil; flowers October to January; useful in spring and summer; is affected by drought; a valuable grass.

Poa breviglumis.—Found in many localities at sea-level, on sandy soil; flowers October to January; useful spring to autumn; resists drought; is a valuable grass; ought to be generally cultivated on sandy soils.

Poa anceps. Soft Meadow grass.—Abundant from sea-level to 2,000 feet; found on moist soil; flowers November to February; useful spring to autumn; resists drought; a valuable grass, but not equal to P. pratensis.

Poa australis. Soft Meadow grass.—A local grass; highly nutritious; ought to be generally cultivated.

Triticum multiflorum.

" scabrum. Rough wheat grass.

Found at sea-level; flower from October to January: useful in spring and summer; useful grasses; increasing slowly.

The above grasses are contained in the list circulated by the Committee. The following are not named therein:—

Microlœna stipoides, Br.—Is found from North Cape to Upper Waikato, at low elevations; a highly valuable grass, much and greedily sought after by sheep, horses, and cattle; one of the most valuable we have; is becoming mixed up with cultivated grasses, and is increasing; resists drought, but would probably not resist frost.

– 301 –

Microlœna avenacea, Br.—A coarse grass, often eaten by cattle, and valuable for sowing in open forests, etc.

Isachne australis, Br.—One of the best grasses for mainlands and swamps; greedily eaten by horses, cattle, and sheep; produces a large yield of slender but nutritious herbage, but would probably not resist frost; found from North Cape to Upper Waikato; a valuable grass from spring to autumn.

Zoysia pungens, Willd.—A low growing grass, rarely more than 2 to 3 inches high, producing a compact sward of short but succulent and nutritious herbage; chiefly on land or mud by the sea. Abundant in central and upper Waikato, where it doubtless marks the site of an ancient sea-basin. Closely cropped by sheep, horses, and cattle. From Spirits Bay to Upper Waikato, and probably further south.*

Sporobolus elongatus, Br.—A grass of remarkable toughness and hardiness of endurance. In Lower Waikato and other places it forms extensive pastures, and is kept as closely cropped by cattle as if frequently mown; still it is not a favourite grass where other kinds can be had. From North Cape to Upper Waikato and Lake Taupo; and, like some other plants, is increasing from the spread of agricultural operations.

Agrostis Billardieri, Br.—A rather coarse grass; not uncommon on poor soils, but not much eaten by cattle.

Appendix B.

Notes on grasses indigenous to the Province of Canterbury. By J. F. and J. B. Armstrong.

1. Microlœna avenacea, Br.—A large coarse grass, common in woods and warm gullies, not hardy in the Government Domain; eaten by cattle; of no use to the farmer. Flowers in December.

2. Alopecurus geniculatus, L.—The common fox-tail grass; found in various swampy localities, also found in Europe and America; of no use to the cultivator. Flowers in December, January, and February.

3. Hierochloe redolens, Br.—Karetu, swamp grass; abundant in swamps and wet places; eaten by stock, but far too coarse for general cultivation. November and December.

4. Hierochloe alpina, R. and S.—Somewhat like H. redolens, but smaller, and a much superior grass; it is alpine and not common.

5. Spinifex hirsutus, Lab.—A curious grass, of no agricultural importance; the burr grass of the settlers.

6. Panicum imbecille, Trin.—This is said to be found in the province, but we have never observed it; it is probably worthless.

[Footnote] * See “Handbook N. Z. Flora.”

– 302 –

7. Zoysia pungens, Willd.—A small matted grass; growing on sand-hills in the neighbourhood of the sea; would be useful for fixing loose sand. Flowers in November.

8. Echinopogon ovatus, Pal.—A tall slender grass of no agricultural importance; common in woods on Banks Peninsula. Flowers in November.

9. Dichelachne crinita, Hook. f.—A valuable grass, much eaten by horses, cattle, and sheep, forming good pasture and producing abundance of food. Flowers in December.

10. Apera arundinacea Hook. f.—A tall, reed-like, very beautiful grass; its agricultural qualities are quite unknown; found by the Hon. J. Hall on an island in the Rakaia.

11. Agrostis œmula.

12. " pilosa.

13. " canina.

14. " avenoides.

Are abundantly distributed on the plains and on the Alps; they are much alike in character, being valuable cattle and sheep grasses.

15. Agrostis Billardieri, Br.—A dwarf broad-leaved grass, found on sandhills and rocks near the sea; much eaten by cattle and horses. Flowers in December.

16. Agrostis setifolia, Hook. f.—A very small tufted species, found on the Alps; value unknown; produce small.

17. Agrostis parviflora, Br.

18. " quadriseta.

Are both common on the Alps and some parts of the plains, and are of little value.

19. Agrostis Youngii, Hook. f.—Found on the Alps by Dr. Haast; somewhat like A. avenoides, and probably similar in quality.

20. Arundo conspicua, Forst.—A very beautiful species; it is the largest New Zealand grass, and is grown in British gardens for ornamental purposes.

21. Danthonia Cunninghamii, Hook. f.

22. " flavescens, Hook. f.

23. " Raoulii, Steud.

These are large coarse grasses, called snow-grasses. They are eaten by horses, and are used for thatching.

24. Danthonia semi-annularis, Br.—Common throughout the province, and so closely cropped by cattle and horses that we had considerable difficulty in obtaining specimens.

25. Deschampsia cœspitosa, Pal.—A tall grass, very common on the banks of the Avon below Christchurch; of no value. Flowers in December and January.

– 303 –

26. Kœleria cristata, Pers.—A beautiful grass, common on the plains and Malvern Hills; one of our best pasture grasses, eaten by sheep, cattle, and horses.

27. Trisetum antarcticum, Trin.—A first-rate grass, slender, tufted, and very beautiful; Banks Peninsula; not common. Flowers in November and December.

28. Trisetum subspicatum, Pal.—A small alpine grass, rare in Canterbury, but more common in Otago; eaten by sheep and cattle; found in all quarters of the globe.

29. Trisetum Youngii, Hook. f.—A tall slender grass, found by Dr. Haast in the Macaulay Valley; probably good.

30. Glyceria stricta, Hook. f.—Common near the Sumner estuary; perhaps a good spring grass. The British G. fluitans is abundant in the Avon, and is perhaps indigenous. It is an excellent grass for cattle and aquatic birds.

31. Poa imbecilla, Forst.—Common in the open bush on Banks Peninsula, where it forms a dense green sward, producing a large quantity of good herbage, eaten by cattle and sheep.

32. Poa breviglumis, Hook. f.—A small tufted grass, producing a large quantity of food; common in several places near Christchurch. Flowers in November and December.

33. Poa foliosa, Hook. f.

34. Poa australis, Br., var. lœvis.

These two species are common in the Alps and low hills. They are both tufted, and are very good pasture grasses.

35. Poa anceps, Forst.—This is the common tussock-grass of the Plains and Port Hills.

36. Poa Colensoi, Hook. f.

37. " Lindsayi, Hook. f.

Are alpine pasture grasses, of considerable merit for sheep feeding.

38. Festuca duriuscula, Linn.—The hard fescue; a small and valuable grass found all over the world in alpine pastures. November and December.

39. Triticum multiflorum, Banks and Sol.—A tall coarse-looking perennial grass, very nearly allied to, if not the same as, the British T. repens, L.; it is of no agricultural value, and is common everywhere. Flowers in December.

40. Triticum scabrum, Br.—The blue-grass of settlers; a valuable grass found in many countries; in Canterbury it grows at an elevation of five to six thousand feet, and is certainly one of the best native grasses.

41. Triticum Youngii, Hook. f.—This was found by Dr. Haast, and is described as a remarkable species, with few spikelets and very long rigid awns; if it is perennial it will probably prove a useful cattle grass.

– 304 –

42. Gymnostichum gracile, Hook. f.—This was found by Raoul at Akaroa; it is described as a curious grass, three or four feet high, growing in woods; probably of no value for feeding purposes.

Appendix C. (Part I.)

Synopsis of Three Returned Tabular Circulars, with Information on certain Introduced Grasses, in answer to the Committee's Inquiries. By J. C. Boys, M. Dixon, and S. D. Glyde.

The localities reported from are all in the province of Canterbury—viz., Eyrewell, altitude 500 feet, by Mr. Dixon; Prebbleton, altitude 60 feet, by Mr. Glyde; Rangiora, altitude 80 feet, and Christchurch, altitude 15 feet, by Mr. Boys.

1. Lolium perenne. Common Rye-grass.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; flowers from November to March; good all the year round; resists drought badly; most valuable of grasses for general purposes; resists frost very fairly when the ground is well drained, not otherwise; is increasing; does not contain so much nutritive matter as many of those following.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; flowers three weeks in December; useful from spring to autumn; will not stand drought; is valuable as a mixture; will diminish with heavy stocking.—Dixon.

Altitude 60 feet; thrives in dry soil; flowers in December; good spring grass; resists drought badly; is diminishing.—Glyde.

2. Lolium italicum. Italian Rye-grass.—Altitude 500 feet; will diminish; serious damage is apt to be caused by the seed being sold in quantities for permanent pasture instead of permanent grasses—Dixon.

Altitude 60 feet; thrives in dry soil; flowers in December; a summer grass; resists drought well; stock like it better than common rye-grass; is increasing.—Glyde.

3. Dactylis glomerata. Cock's-foot.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; flowers from middle of December to end of February; useful spring, summer, and autumn; resists drought better than rye-grass; stock fond of it when not too old, but should be kept fed down; second grass in value; resists frost badly; is increasing; no pasture land should be without it.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; flowers two or three weeks in January; is useful early and late; resists drought well; valuable early grass; resists frost well; requires sowing on dry pastures.—Dixon.

Altitude 60 feet; thrives in dry soil; flowers in January; useful summer grass; resists drought well, but frost badly; should be kept fed close or it grows tufty.—Glyde.

– 305 –

4. Phleum pratense. Timothy.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; flowers from beginning of January to March; useful spring, summer, and autumn; resists drought badly, but will stand any amount of wet; everything ravenous after it; the finest grass in the world and the most nutritive; most valuable in consequence of not spreading; is decreasing; no pasture land should be without it, although everything from the sheep to the caterpillar is so fond of it, which is why I place it fourth as to value.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; very good on wet, good in all soils; flowers three weeks in February; very good summer grass; likes moisture and good land; very valuable feeding grass; does not resist frost well; will increase in suitable localities.—Dixon.

5. Cynosurus cristatus. Crested Dog's-tail.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; flowers from middle of December to middle of February; useful summer and autumn; resists drought well; third grass in value; resists frost well; is increasing; forms a nice sward, and thrives on the wet as well as on the dry banks.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; good in all soils, very good in dry; flowers second week in January; good all the year round; resists drought well; is increasing; will increase on the native grasses; forms a valuable mixture.—Dixon.

6. Anthoxanthum odoratum. Sweet-scented Vernal.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; flowers in middle of October, and seed is all shed by middle of December; useful spring grass; I should place it about twentieth on the list as to value; increasing in the paddock in which it was sown, but does not seem to spread over the farm; not a good grass, throws scarcely any feed, but gives the hay a sweet scent, and is very early.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; thrives in all soils; flowers first week in November; useful winter and spring; resists drought very well; valuable as a mixture; resists frost very well; is increasing; will increase on the native grasses.—Dixon.

7. Festuca pratensis. Meadow Fescue.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives in moist rich clay; a useful summer grass; fifth in value on the list; resists frost pretty well; is increasing; it is one of the best grasses for permanent pasture, and forms a good sward.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; thrives in all soils; flowers second week in January; useful spring, summer, and autumn; resists drought very well; valuable mixture; is increasing; should not think it would increase with heavy stocking.—Dixon.

8. Festuca ovina. Sheep's Fescue.—Altitude 500 feet; thrives as sheep pasture in all soils; flowers first week in January; useful in winter and all the year round; resists drought very well; valuable mixture; resists frost very well; is increasing, and forms close undergrowth.—Dixon.

– 306 –

9. Festuca heterophylla. Various leaved Fescue.—Altitude 500 feet; thrives in dry sheep pastures; flowers first week in January; resists drought very well; valuable mixture; resists frost very well; is increasing, and forms close undergrowth.—Dixon.

10. Festuca duriuscula. Hard Fescue.

11. " rubra. Red Fescue.

12. " tenuifolia. Fine leaved Fescue.

Altitude 500 feet; all thrive on dry sheep pastures; flower first week in January; useful all the year round; resist drought very well; are valuable as mixtures; stand frost very well; are increasing. The special variety will adapt itself to any particular soil where it is sown, and will become duriuscula, ovina, or rubra, according to the poverty of the land or otherwise.—Dixon.

13. Poa pratensis. Smooth-stalked Meadow grass.—Is found about the side walks, Christchurch; altitude 15 feet; thrives in dry rich sandy loam; flowers from 15th November to end of December; useful in early summer; resists drought and frost well; valuable on dry soil, but useless in a stiff wet soil; increasing about Christchurch; forms a close bottom, but patchy; value on list No. 7 or 8.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; thrives in dry soil, but good in all; flowers second week in January; useful all the year round; resists drought and frost very well; valuable mixture; stock very fond of it; is increasing; will grow anywhere.—Dixon.

14. Poa trivialis. Rough-stalked Meadow grass.—Altitude 500 feet; thrives on strong soil; flowers third week in January; useful all the summer; resists drought well, and frost very well; stock are not fond of it; cannot speak as to its increase or decrease; stock would eat it after every other.Dixon.

15. Poa nemoralis. Wood Meadow grass.

16. " nemoralis sempervirens. Hudson Bay Meadow grass.

“I have not been able to distinguish the particular varieties.”—Dixon.

17. Alopecurus pratensis. Meadow Fox-tail.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives on moist rich clay; flowers in November; useful spring grass; stock like it; it is a most valuable meadow grass; is increasing; is absolutely necessary for good permanent pasture ground.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; it likes good land, but has done well on medium; flowers early in November; useful spring and summer; forms a valuable mixture; stock very fond of it; stands frost very well; is increasing; will be a very useful grass on the best pastures in New Zealand; resists drought as well as most grasses.—Dixon.

18. Holcus lanatus. Yorkshire Fog.—Altitude 80 feet; thrives on wet peaty land; flowers in November; useful winter grass; is only valuable as

– 307 –

affording winter feed when all the other grasses have been cut off by frost; increasing a great deal too fast unless the ground be well drained.—Boys.

Altitude 500 feet; thrives everywhere; flowers second week in December; useful in spring, etc.; do not think it stands drought quite so well as some others; stock do not prefer it; resists frost very well; is increasing, and easy of production.—Dixon.

19. Avena flavescens. Golden Bristle grass.—Altitude 60 feet; thrives on dry soil; flowers in December; is a useful autumn grass, and resists drought well, but stock do not like it; is on the increase; it appears to kill other grasses; paddocks that have been sown down any time almost invariably get overrun with it.—Glyde.

20. Avena elatior. Large Oat-grass.—It is a great weed.—Dixon.

21. Ceratochloa unioloides. Prairie grass.—Altitude 500 feet; do not think it will be permanent; stock like it very much, and it resists frost very well, but is decreasing.—Dixon.

Altitude 60 feet; it thrives on dry soil; flowers in December; is a useful autumn grass, and resists drought well; stock very fond of it; stands frost well; is on the increase. There is great difference of opinion with regard to this grass. I had a field of it; it did well first year, second year nothing; ploughed it up and put in wheat, the grass came up in the stubble better than ever.—Glyde.

Note by Mr. Dixon.—I take it for granted that a paddock intended for permanent pasture must be laid down with permanent pasture grasses, and must not on any account be broken up again, as it requires a great number of years to get these grasses established; light stocking should be a rule. My replies must be taken relatively.

Remarks on Appendix C.

As will be seen in the tabulated reports furnished by Messrs. Dixon, Boys, and Glyde, the great majority of grasses, of which information was asked for, have been tried in this province, and all have been more or less favourably spoken of with the exception of the two Avenas, and the Poa nemoralis and P. nemoralis sempervirens. Respecting the Avenas, it is probable that these grasses have been confounded with others that are to a certain extent like them, if observed casually.

Mr. Glyde evidently confounds the Avena flavescens with the Bromus mollis, or else the Bromus secalinus, commonly termed Goose or Brome grasses. Mr. Dixon, on the other hand, names the same grass Trisetum flavescens (which is the name it goes under in commerce), but says he has been “unable to make it out in the plot.” Mr. Dixon, however, says the Avena elatior is “a great weed,” evidently confounding it with the Bromi.

– 308 –

The natural habitat of the Poa nemoralis is shady woods, particularly alpine situations, and these conditions were probably wanting in the respective situations on which the experiments were conducted. The latter of the Poas has been extensively experimented upon during the last two years in different parts of the province, as well as in the Amuri district of the province of Nelson, and casual information has reached the committee of its likelihood to prove a very valuable addition to our exotic grasses, particularly in hilly districts, where its remarkable stoloniferous habit and grazing capabilities will be of advantage in occupying tracts of hill country.

This grass was introduced in considerable quantities by the Messrs. G. and J. Tinline and Mr. Caverhill, from the United States of America, and is there termed Virginia-grass.

I am aware that there are other sorts of exotic grasses that are useful for special purposes, such as water meadows. The committee, however, were of opinion that no information was to be had bearing upon this particular part of the subject, and therefore did not place several grasses used for such purposes in the catalogue of sorts for which information was asked.

It is much to be regretted that fuller information was not supplied respecting the soil, with sub-soil, on which the different sorts of grasses were growing, as the influence of soils on vegetation rules to a great extent the sorts of grasses that are suitable; and it may be that some sorts which have to a certain extent been unfavourably spoken of, were growing on soils wholly unsuited for favourable comparison.

The following instances will make my meaning clear:—

Cynosurus cristatus (Crested Dogs'-tail) does not thrive well on fertile clay soils, nor on alluvial bottoms, but for poor clay, high lying clay, light chalk, brushy limestone, or sandy soils, it is eminently adapted.

Poa trivialis (Rough-stalked Meadow grass) does not do well on fertile clay soils, nor on loams derived from the old or new red sandstones, but on all other medium soils is one of the most important grasses.

Festuca pratensis (Meadow Fescue) is one of the best grasses on alluvial or clay soils of all descriptions, but on limestone, chalk, or other soils of a light character, it is not found to thrive.

These instances prove the necessity for the character of the soils being thoroughly understood before a judicious selection of grasses can be made for different localities, and it is in this respect that the Committee feel that the information at their command has not been so specific and full, considering the magnitude of the subject in its relation to the province, as would warrant them in arriving at a definite conclusion in respect to certain exotic grasses.

– 309 –

Appendix D.

List of Naturalized Grasses found in Canterbury. By J. F. Armstrong.


Phleum pratense, Linn. Timothy grass. Widely distributed.


Alopecurus agrestis, Linn. Annual. Fox-tail grass. Rare.


" pratensis, Linn. Meadow Fox-tail grass.


Phalaris canariensis, Linn. Annual. Canary grass. Rare.


Holcus mollis, Linn. Creeping Fog grass. Rare.


" lanatus, Linn. Yorkshire Fog grass. Common.


Anthoxanthum odoratum, Linn. Sweet Vernal. Common.


Panicum colonum, Linn. Annual. Rare.


" glaucum, Linn.? Annual. Rare.


" sanguinale, Linn. Annual. Rather common.


Agrostis vulgaris, With. Bent grass.


Avena sativa, Linn. Common Oat. Annual. Common.


" fatua, Linn. Wild Oat. Annual. Rare.


Poa trivialis, Linn. Rough Meadow grass. Rare.


" annua, Linn. Annual. Very common.


" nemoralis, Linn. Wood Meadow grass. Rare.


" pratensis, Linn. Meadow grass. Common.


" pratensis, var. angustifolia. Common


Briza minor, Linn. Annual. Quaking grass. Rare.


Cynosurus cristatus, Linn. Crested Dog's-tail grass.


Dactylis glomerata, Linn. Cock's-foot grass. Common.


Bromus mollis, Linn. Annual. Soft Brome grass.


" racemosus, Linn. Annual. Goose grass. Common.


" madritensis, Linn. Annual. Italian Brome.


" asper, Linn. Annual. Rough Brome grass.


" unioloides, Kth. Annual.? Spreading fast.


" schraderii, Kth. Prairie grass. Common.


Lolium perenne, Linn. Ray grass. Common.


" italicum, Linn. Italian Rye grass. Common.


" multiflorum, Lam. Rare.


" temulentum, Linn. Darnel. Common.


" temulentum, var. ramosum. Rare.


Triticum vulgare, Linn. Common Wheat. Rare.


Hordeum sativum, Linn. Barley. Annual. Rare.


" murinum, Linn. Wall Barley. Annual. Common.


" maritimum, Linn. Sea-side Barley. Common.

– 310 –

Festuca ovina, Linn. Sheep's Fescue. Rare.


" pratensis, Linn. Meadow Fescue. Very rare.


" rubra, Linn. Red Fescue. Not common.


Arrhenatherum avenaceum, Beauv. Oat grass. Rare.


" bulbosum, Lind. Bulbous Oat grass. Very rare.


Triticum repens, Linn. Creeping Wheat or Twitch.


Hordeum distichum, L. Two-rowed Barley. Rare.