Ehrharta villosa

Pyp grass

Family: Poaceae

Origin: South Africa

A field of pyp grass.
Can form dense stands of grass that outcompete native plants. Can be controlled with herbicide that can penetrate through stems and into the dense rhizomes underground.
Photo credit: Dr Mike Hilton, University of Otago

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • National Pest Plant Accord Species
  • Notifiable organism

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Perennial grass < 2 m tall. Rhizomes are long and creeping. Stems are jointed, cane-like and erect. Leaves are short, < 13 cm long, blue-green and rolled. Flowers are borne in narrow panicle < 25 cm long in October – January. Seedheads are slender and contain purplish seeds.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell pyp grass. As pyp grass is a National Pest Plant Accord species, these restrictions apply within the Auckland region and across the whole of New Zealand.

If you see pyp grass anywhere, you must report it to the Ministry of Primary Industries on 0800 80 99 66.


Coastal areas, wetlands, sand dunes.


Seeds dispersed by wind. Vegetative spread from rhizomes. Human-mediated dispersal through deliberate plantings.

Impact on environment

Forms dense infestations, outcompeting and displacing native vegetation.


Recommended approaches

Do not attempt to undertake control of this species. The Ministry of Primary Industries will carry out the control of this species.

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

Two people walking in a field of dry pyp grass.
Commonly found in coastal areas and sand dunes but can also grow in wetlands. If you see this plant you must report it to the Ministry of Primary Industries.
Photo credit: Dr Kerry C Harrington, Massey University
Close up of pyp grass flowers.
A perennial grass that can grow up to 2m tall. Rhizomes form underground and creep under the surface to pop up later.
Photo credit: Dr Kerry C Harrington, Massey University
Pyp grass growing in the soil.
Flowers appear in spring and summer and seedheads are slender and contain purple seeds. Can grow from seed or from fragments of rhizomes that are moved in soil.
Photo credit: Dr Kerry C Harrington, Massey University