Silver Tussock Grass.
This species is abundant from central Waikato southwards, forming tussocks of harsh dry herbage, eaten by cattle and horses ín the absence of better food, but not in any way valuable for cultivation.
In a-paper on New Zealand Grasses, written seven years ago, I wrote of this plant as a grass of great value, having mistaken for it a slender form of the variety elata of Poa anceps. At that time I had not seen the
present plant, which is (erroneously as it appears to me) regarded by Mr. Buchanan as “a grass of the first quality.”
An attempt made a few years back to establish sheep stations in the Taupo country resulted in great loss to the projectors, the only grass available being the present species (P. australis, var. lavis), which contains but a small amount of nutritive matter, so that the sheep began to fall away as soon as they were placed on the runs.
When travelling in the Taupo country I observed that my horses would never eat it, so long as any other kind was available, and that usually they preferred the old dry leaves and culms to those of younger growth.
This plant is often difficult to eradicate. Mr. Potts, of Ohinetahi, pointed out a paddock which had been ploughed several times and sown with European grasses, but the tussocks of the Poa were as numerous as ever among the introduced grasses, which surrounded but could not overcome them.
IT is the common Tussock Grass of the Canterbury Plains and Port Hills, wrongly referred to Poa anceps by Mr. Armstrong, * as that species never assumes the rigid tussocky habit of the present plant.
[Footnote] * See “Trans. N.Z. Inst.,” Vol. IV., p. 303.