African fountain grass

Native to parts of Africa and Asia, African fountain grass is a densely tufted perennial grass. Young specimens are ornamental and have previously been planted in gardens and along roadsides in Queensland. African fountain grass is highly invasive and can compete with pasture and native plants. It is a serious weed in California and Hawaii, where it has invaded dry, hot sites.

You must manage the impacts of African fountain grass on your land.

You must not give away, sell or release African fountain grass into the environment.

Scientific name

Pennisetum setaceum


  • Erect, densely tufted perennial grass up to about 1m tall.
  • Leaves are coarse, linear, convolute, folded or flat, about 8-30cm long.
  • Seed heads are distinctive feathery, pinkish.


  • Prefers drier, hot, rocky and generally exposed sites such as ridgelines, mine spoil, and cliffs in arid, semi-arid and seasonally dry tropical and subtropical areas.


  • Visit Weeds Australia and click on the distribution tab to access the distribution map.

Life cycle

  • Can live up to 20 years.
  • Seeds may survive 6 years in soil.
  • Seeds germinate in late spring to early summer.
  • Flowering occurs mainly throughout summer.



  • Out-competes native plants.
  • Increases fire intensity due to high biomass.


  • Competes with pastures used for grazing.

How it is spread

  • Spread by wind, moving water, and seeds attached to fur, clothing, vehicles and machinery.
  • Also spread by people moving plants.


Physical control

  • Hand-pull seedlings and smaller plants, then compost them or bag and dispose of them at the local garbage dump.

Herbicide control

  • Use herbicide, such as foliar spray, for larger infestations.

Read the African fountain grass fact sheet (PDF, 7.9MB) for herbicide control and application rates.

Biological control

  • No known biological control agents.

Legal requirements

  • African fountain grass is a category 3 restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment. Penalties may apply.
  • You must take all reasonable and practical measures to minimise the biosecurity risks associated with dealing with African fountain grass under your control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government agency must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on African fountain grass. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local council for more information.

Further information