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.

African fountain grass is a restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

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.


  • Found in scattered populations across Queensland, often in and/or near towns.

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 and vehicles.
  • Also spread by humans 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.

See 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 restricted invasive plant under the Biosecurity Act 2014.
  • It must not be given away, sold, or released into the environment without a permit.
  • The Act requires everyone to take all reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control. This is called a general biosecurity obligation (GBO).
  • At a local level, each local government must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in its area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.

Further information