Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered as Rytidosperma popinensis
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Austrodanthonia popinensis (Roadside Wallaby Grass) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014da) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (29/04/2014).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Danthonia popinensis.
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (11/04/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007f) [Legislative Instrument] as Austrodanthonia popinensis.
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (134) (13/04/2012) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2012i) [Legislative Instrument] as Rytidosperma popinensis.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
TAS:Listing Statement for Rytidosperma popinensis (blue wallabygrass) (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2010a) [Information Sheet].
TAS:Rytidosperma popinensis (blue wallabygrass): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link (Threatened Species Section (TSS), 2014c) [State Action Plan].
State Listing Status
TAS: Listed as Rare (Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania): Rare species: September 2012 list) as Rytidosperma popinensis
Scientific name Rytidosperma popinensis [84360]
Family Poaceae:Cyperales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (D.I.Morris) A.M.Humphreys & H.P.Linder
Infraspecies author  
Reference Linder, H.P., Baeza, M., Barker, N.P., Galley, C., Humphreys, A.M., Lloyd, K.M., Orlovich, D.A., Pirie, M.D., Simon, B.K., Walsh, N. & Verboom, G.A. (2010) Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 97(3): 359-360 [comb. nov.]
Other names Danthonia popinensis [21891]
Austrodanthonia popinensis [64835]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Rytidosperma popinensis was downlisted to rare on the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 (Tasmania) as it is no longer regarded as threatened. The Tasmanian Government suggests that a Commonwealth reassessment of the species’ eligibility for listing on the EPBC Act may be appropriate (TSS 2010a).

Scientific name: Austrodanthonia popinensis

Common name: Roadside Wallaby Grass

Synonyms: Danthonia popinensis, Notodanthonia popinensis

Other common names: Blue Wallabygrass

Previously, Austrodanthonia tenuior has been misidentified as Roadside Wallaby Grass and has sometimes been referred to as Danthonia aff. popinensis. Danthonia aff. popinensis has been recorded at Avoca, Conara and west of Campbell Town (Kirkpatrick 2000).

Roadside Wallaby Grass is a tufted, perennial grass that grows to 45 cm high. The stems are smoothly ribbed with purple nodes. The lower leaf blades are flat (sometimes only at the base), up to 15 cm long and 0.2 cm wide. The upper leaf surface is strongly ribbed, with the lower surface being finely ribbed. The base of the leaf blade is pale and often shiny. The seedhead is up to 10 cm long, linear to lance-shaped and pale green in colour. The branches and flower stalks are often covered with minute hairs. The spikelets are 1.3–1.4 cm long with hair-like projections (awns) that are 0.3–0.4 cm long. It has relatively long hairs, scattered between an upper and lower row of hair tufts on the grass seed (Kirkpatrick 2000; Tas. DPIWE 2003).

Roadside Wallaby Grass occurs in Tasmania's Midlands and the lower Derwent Valley, with most plants occurring along roadside verges in the southern and northern Midlands. Locations include Brighton, Sandy Bay, Lutana, Mangalore, Central Plateau and at sites along the Midland Highway (Tas. DPIWE 2003). This species is known from 21 subpopulations, at least one of which is extinct (Tas. DPIWE 2003). The species was probably more widespread in the past, at least in the Midlands (Leigh & Briggs 1992). The discovery of further subpopulations cannot be ruled out (TSS 2009).

The extent of occurrence of Roadside Wallaby Grass is estimated to be 3400 km², within a linear range of 128 km (TSS 2009). The area of occupancy of this species is estimated to be 9–15 hectares (Tas. DPIWE 2003; TSS 2009).

Roadside Wallaby Grass is estimated to have from 140 000 plants (Tas. DPIWE 2003) to at least 200 000 (North 2001). The largest population may have at least 127 000 plants (North 2001) and four other populations have 9000–40 000 plants each (TSS 2009). Five known populations have less than 200 plants each (TSS 2009).

No known populations of Roadside Wallaby Grass occur on reserves. Most populations occur on roadsides and some on adjoining private land (Tas. DPIWE 2003). Some locations are in informal roadside reserves, managed by the Tasmanian Department of Information, Energy and Resources, and one location is protected in the Queens Domain, Hobart (TSS 2009).

The majority of known Roadside Wallaby Grass populations occur on roadside verges, 15–200 m above sea level. Sites tend to be flat or gently sloping and the soils are usually rock free with a sandy loam/sandy clay loam topsoil (Gilfedder & Kirkpatrick 1997). Underlying substrate includes Jurassic dolerite, Triassic sandstone and Quaternary aeolian sands. The original habitat was probably grassy open woodland dominated by Snow Gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora) and Manna Gum (E. viminalis) (Gilfedder & Kirkpatrick 1997; Leigh & Briggs 1992).

Roadside Wallaby Grass appears to prefer disturbed open sites rather than 'intact' sites, the majority of which occur on roadsides. The open, and disturbed, nature can be maintained by slashing/mowing or fire, however, bare ground exposure as a result of this process may lead to the establishment of weeds (TSS 2009).

Roadside Wallaby Grass is capable of vegetative growth (the increase in tussock size). Seed ripens in late autumn and open conditions, with bare ground, are required for the species to recruit successfully from seed (Gilfedder & Kirkpatrick 1997). Historically, fire is likely to have maintained the conditions suitable for this species (TSS 2009).

Roadside Wallaby Grass is characterised by its bluish foliage, though identification is best made during the flowering period, in December–March (Gilfedder & Kirkpatrick 1997). The broad, flat blades of the lower leaves distinguish it from other Austrodanthonia. It resembles a spear grass (Kirkpatrick 2000).

Roadside Wallaby Grass may be confused with Austrodanthonia tenuior, the latter having panicles up to 20 cm long, while the area between the upper and lower rows of hairs on the lemma is glabrous or with only a few scattered hairs (TSS 2009).

Habitat clearance
Clearing for housing, agriculture and transport corridors pose a direct threat to Roadside Wallaby Grass. An indirect threat includes salinity at susceptible woodland sites (TSS 2009).

Inappropriate roadside management
Inappropriate slashing, mowing, grazing, road upgrades or road duplication are actions that may impact known subpopulations (Tas. DPIWE 2003). Between one and three subpopulation have been destroyed as the result of roadworks (Gilfedder & Kirkpatrick 1997; Tas. DPIWE 2003). Too infrequent slashing increases the competition from other grasses and shrubs and decreases the ability of populations to recover following reinstated slashing (Kirkpatrick 2007).

Persistent grazing throughout the year can prevent new seed forming and reduce recruitment success. Evidence of this threat is observed through the decline of this species on private land and the limited spread of the species from road reserves to adjacent grazed land (TSS 2009).

Weeds that threaten this species include introduced grasses, African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum), Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa), pines (Pinus spp.) and elm (Ulmus spp.) suckers (Leigh & Briggs 1992; TSS 2009).

Roadside actions
Roadside Wallaby Grass prefers open site conditions that can be provided by slashing/mowing once a year in autumn, after the seed has dispersed. However, open sites can encourage weed invasion and clearing of surrounding woodland vegetation can raise the water table at salinity prone sites (Barker 1999).

Maintenance schedules of roadsides along the Midlands Highway have been documented in the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources managment plans (Tas. DPIWE 2003). These plans include maps that detail locations of threatened flora occurring along roadsides and their required management (Tas. DPIWE 2003). Roadside Wallaby Grass populations should remain viable if the plans are kept up-to-date and prescribed maintenance is carried out (Tas. DPIWE 2003).

Grazing actions
Roadside Wallaby Grass prefers non-persistent light grazing. Grazing throught the whole year can prevent the formation and dispersal of new seed and reduce the ability for new plants from germinating (Barker 1999).

Conservation covenants
The largest known Roadside Wallaby Grass subpopulation occurs at a site between Brighton and Pontville and is protected by a Part 5 Agreement under the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993(Tasmania). This agreement is accompainied by a nature conservation plan that identifies ongoing protection and management procedures that obliges the land holder to regularly monitor and report on the status of the population (TSS 2009).

Future management actions
A number of recovery actions have been identified (TSS 2009) and include:

  • assessment of known subpopulations to determine their current status and management requirements
  • evaluation of the roadside management plans
  • evaluation of the conservation covenant program
  • investigation of further subpopulation inclusion in reserve or covenant system
  • establishment of ex situ population and seed material collection.

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Austrodanthonia popinensisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006bo) [Internet].
Invasive and Other Problematic Species and Genes:Invasive Non-Native/Alien Species:Competition and/or habitat degradation by weeds Austrodanthonia popinensisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006bo) [Internet].
Transportation and Service Corridors:Roads and Railroads:Development and/or maintenance of roads Austrodanthonia popinensisin Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006bo) [Internet].

Barker, P. (1999). Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Native Grasslands 2000-2002. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment.

Gilfedder, L. & J.B. Kirkpatrick (1997). Aspects of the distribution, phytosociology, ecology and management of Danthonia popinensis D.I.Morris, an endangered wallaby grass from Tasmania. In: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. 131:31-35.

Kirkpatrick, J. (2000). Threatened Flora -plants listed as extinct, endangered or vulnerable. [Online]. Created by Bushcare Technical Extension (Tasmania). Available from:

Kirkpatrick, J.B. (2007). Collateral benefit: unconscious conservation of threatened plant species. Australian Journal of Botany. 55:221-224.

Leigh, J.H. & J.D. Briggs (Eds) (1992). Threatened Australian Plants. Overview and Case Studies. New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

North, A.J. (2001). Brighton Barracks - Survey for Roadside Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia popinensis) and other threatened flora species. Unpublished Report. Hobart, Tasmania: Inspiring Place Pty Ltd.

Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment (Tas. DPIWE) (2003). Threatened Flora of Tasmania: Austrodanthonia popinensis. [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: DPIWE. Available from:$FILE/Austrodanthonia%20popinensis.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2009). Listing Statement for Austrodanthonia popinensis (blue wallabygrass). [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries & Water. Available from:$FILE/Austrodanthonia%20popinensis.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2010a). Listing Statement for Rytidosperma popinensis (blue wallabygrass). [Online]. Hobart, Tasmania: Department of Primary Industries & Water. Available from:$FILE/Rytidosperma%20popinensis%20listing%20statement.pdf.

Threatened Species Section (TSS) (2014c). Rytidosperma popinensis (blue wallabygrass): Species Management Profile for Tasmania's Threatened Species Link. [Online]. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Tasmania. Available from:

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Rytidosperma popinensis in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Tue, 16 Sep 2014 12:59:37 +1000.