Cortaderia jubata and C. selloana

Pampas grass

Family: Poaceae

Origin: South America

A dense bush of pampas grass.
From South America, this hardy plant prefers hot, dry conditions, and is found in places where seeds have been spread by the wind. Pampas is commonly found on railway tracks, roadsides, hilltops, and coastal areas.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Parkland with Significant Ecological Areas — Site-led
  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area priority status
  • National Pest Plant Accord Species

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Clump-forming grasses < 4 m tall. Leaves are sharp and mostly develop from base. Dead leaf bases spiral-like wood shavings. Flowerheads are erect, dense, fluffy, white/pink/purple fading to dirty white/yellow/brown and borne in January – June.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell pampas grass. As pampas grass is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.
  • You must not plant pampas grass within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any pampas grass on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.

Transport corridor operators must destroy all pampas grass on any transport land that is located within the Waitākere Ranges road corridor weed control zone.

View a map of park buffers where this applies.

To find out more about how we’re protecting Auckland’s parkland from pest plants, visit caring for our park buffers.

Habitats

Disturbed areas, roadsides, slips, cliffs, riparian areas, coastal areas, estuaries, scrublands, forest canopy gaps, plantations.

Dispersal

Seeds dispersed by wind and animals. Human-mediated dispersal through movement of contaminated gravel and vehicles.

Impact on environment

Forms dense colonies, replacing native plants in open or disturbed habitats. Provides habitat for invasive mammals. Smothers young trees and disrupts harvesting in forestry plantations. Can create a significant fire hazard.

Control

Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.

Biocontrol

Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

Basic Growsafe certified: Foliar spray with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 200ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant. For infestations amongst desirable broadleaf species foliar spray with 150ml haloxyfop-P-methyl per 10L of water.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

A large bush of pampas.
Also known as cutty grass, sharp silica hairs on the pampas leaves can cut skin. Some people are allergic to the seed heads if they touch their skin.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Pampas in flower
Often confused with native toetoe, pampas produces erect flowers which remain on the plant for months. Many birds like to take seed fluff during nesting season.
Curls of dry pampas grass leaves.
Pampas produces masses of small, dry curled leaves that sit at the base of the grass stump. During summer these can become a significant fire hazard and care should be taken using sparking machinery around them.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Pampas grass growing in the shade of a hill.
Pampas is commonly found in pine forests after trees are harvested. As the trees grow, the pampas is shaded out however their seeds remain viable in the soil for many years.
Photo credit: Bec Stanley
Pampas grass nestled in a valley.
Pampas can be difficult to control as the dense base can overcome the herbicide and re-sprout. The dry curled leaves at the bases of pampas are a favourite habitat of skinks and rats.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow