Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
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Tall wheat grass

Scientific name(s)

Thinopyrum ponticum



Plant description

Plant: a densely tufted, late maturing perennial tussock grass with a deep fibrous root system

Stems: Up to 2 m high

Leaves: short ligule; prounounced auricle; young leafs rolled in the bud; greyish green, glaucous and stiff; thick veined; glabrous on upper side (much softer if kept closely grazed)

Seedhead: an erect spike 1-30 cm; lower internodes of rachis 1.5-3 cm, upper ones shorter, all flat on side facing the spikelet.

Seeds: Large, long and narrow.   ~140,000/kg

Pasture type and use

Used in reclamation of saline soils and for soil conservation; also for pasture in low rainfall, non saline soils.

Where it grows


400-1000 mm/yr in southern Australia.  At least 500 mm/yr in northern NSW


Acid or alkaline soil.  Most suited to hard pan soils that alternate winter water logging and summer dry crust.  Tolerates salinity up to 40 dS/m;  50% yield loss at 19.4 dS/m. Pucinellia is more suited to highly saline land


Suited to Mediterranean/similar climate.  Only fair tolerance to frost.


Companion species

Grasses: Puccinellia, tall fescue

Legumes: strawberry clover, Persian clover (ssp resupinatum), balansa clover

Sowing/planting rates as single species

10-12 kg/ha.  Use seed <2 years old; seed viability usually declines steeply after 2 years

Spray weeds in spring in the year before sowing.  Fence off saline areas and scarify soil (but not along seasonally flowing drainage lines) prior to drilling seed.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

6 kg/ha

Sowing time

Early autumn.  Sow in spring - early or on a winter fallow - in high rainfall areas


Not applicable




Maintenance fertliser

10 kg P/ha. N, K as per common pasture.


Defer grazing until crown is well developed. Very tolerant of grazing once established.  Yield and quality relatively good if kept short.  Good late growth makes companion legume quite vulnerable to lax grazing.  Excellent silage/hay if mown before heading.

Low value old stands of rank growth can be reclaimed by mulching (cut at 10 cm) in early summer, or by burning when fire restrictions permit

Seed production

Flowers in January in southern Victoria; harvested March-April.  250-300 kg/ha

Ability to spread

Poor recruitment of seedlings due to low seedling vigour

Weed potential

Used in Australia for >40 years without on-farm problems.  If ungrazed and allowed to grow rank, seed can move with water flow and germinate in bare areas e.g. coastal saltmarsh so avoid use adjacent to sensitive conservation areas.

Major pests

Slugs and crickets may kill seedlings

Major diseases

No information

Herbicide susceptibility


Animal production

Feeding value

High.  Late green growth has given animal production returns on reclaimed land that often exceed those on non-saline higher ground


High if kept grazed.  Low where allowed to grow rank.  Varies with cultivar.

Production potential

Relatively good in autumn, spring and summer

Livestock disorders/toxicity

No problems recorded


Group Cultivar Seed source/Information
Old Tyrell Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars
Stephen Pasture Seeds
New Dundas Australian Herbage Plant Cultivars
Wrightson Seeds

Tyrell derives from a 1930's Turkish accession into USA which was imported into Australia as cv Largo in the 1950s.  Dundas was bred in Australia for improved quality and production in the 1990s

 Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder's Rights Australia

Further information

Establishing and managing tall wheat grass in saline soils for productivity - Victoria DPI



Author and date

Kevin Reed

October 2008