Danthonia raoulii, Stend.
From the Ruahine Mountains, to Southland, ascending to 3,500 feet.
The above three species are the chief “snow grasses” of the South Island, but the first is less plentiful than the others, and its herbage not quite so harsh. All are large “tussock” grasses, the leaves being often from 3–5 feet in length. After the flowering season, the large grain, which they produce in great abundance, forms the chief food of cattle and horses which can gain access to them. The coarse stringy herbage is not much eaten except when snow is on the ground and the smaller grasses are not accessible. It is, however, a common practice to burn off the tussocks in the spring to encourage a younger growth, which is greedily eaten by sheep, but the tussocks are speedily destroyed by this process.
It will be seen that, although of great value in the early settlement of a
sub-alpine district, they are not adapted fer cultivation, and will recede before the advance of agriculture; although a wise policy would encourage their preservation in gullies and broken country on account of the great value of their copious herbage during the severe portion of the winter. They afford excellent material for paper manufacture, for which purpose they are largely used at the Mataura Paper Mills.