Pampas - the big bully!

A large pampas grass towering over PFK Restoration Adviser Nic

Pampas grass is a really tough pest plant which can bully our native plants, and even us! It can grow into a huge, dense mass of saw-toothed leaves, giving it the common name cutty grass. It can stop people’s access as well as providing habitat for rats and possums! And it’s a fire hazard! It’s long feathery flowerheads produce masses of tiny wind-borne seeds which can float almost anywhere. Read on to find out why it's weedy, how to recognise it and tell it apart from the native toetoe, and find out how to get rid of it.

Why is it weedy?

  • Pampas grass is very tolerant of a range of environmental conditions.

  • It can establish quickly after fire or soil disturbance where there is bare soil and increased light levels.

  • It produces masses of wind-borne seed which can also be spread through soil movement, dumped vegetation, on animals, boots and sometimes water.

  • It is a fire risk, can harbour rats and possums, and can impede human access. Plus they can be very difficult to remove once they become large.

Upright feathery flowerheads of pampas grass

Pampas forms a large, clump up to 4m and often grows in high light, disturbed areas and outcompetes our native grasses and shrubs, including the native toetoe.

As it spreads through tiny wind-borne seeds, you can make a huge difference by cutting off the flowerheads wherever you can, and disposing of them in your rubbish (or, to avoid seeds spreading further, by pushing the seed head down into the middle of the pampas bush).

How to tell the weed pampas from the native toetoe

Toetoe (a giant tussock grass) of which there are several species plays an important role in New Zealand - some growing on sand dunes