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 Not listed under EPBC Act
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Listing Advice on Austrostipa nullanulla (Club Spear-grass) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2010m) [Listing Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, species delisted from the EPBC Act (19/08/2011).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Other EPBC Act Plans Threat abatement plan for competition and land degradation by rabbits (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), 2008adh) [Threat Abatement Plan].
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 Stipa nullanulla.
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 Austrostipa nullanulla.
Amendment to the list of threatened species under section 178 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (98) (13/07/2010) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2010h) [Legislative Instrument] as Austrostipa nullanulla.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Austrostipa nullanulla (A Spear-grass) - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005ot) [Internet].
SA:Draft recovery plan for 23 threatened flora taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 2007-2012 (Pobke, K., 2007) [State Recovery Plan].
State Listing Status
NSW: Listed as Endangered (Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (New South Wales): August 2014 list) as Austrostipa nullanulla
SA: Listed as Vulnerable (National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): June 2011 list) as Austrostipa nullanulla
Non-statutory Listing Status
VIC: Listed as Vulnerable (Advisory List of Rare or Threatened Plants in Victoria: 2005)
Scientific name Austrostipa nullanulla [66622]
Family Poaceae:Cyperales:Liliopsida:Magnoliophyta:Plantae
Species author (J.Everett & S.W.L.Jacobs) S.W.L.Jacobs & J.Everett
Infraspecies author  
Reference Telopea 6(4): 587 (1996).
Other names Stipa nullanulla [2538]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map not available for this taxon.
Illustrations Google Images

Austrostipa nullanulla was removed from the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 list of threatened species on 19 August 2010.

Scientific name: Austrostipa nullanulla

Common name: Club Spear-grass

Club Spear-grass is a small tufted (tussocky) grass growing to 0.5 m high. The plant has slender stems that bear delicate, spreading flower-heads, approximately 13–19 cm long, with spikelets that are 9–11 mm long (excluding the awns). The awns (bristles) are gently twice-bent and 5–7 cm long. The leaves are usually rolled, and rigid, 2–3 mm wide, with a strongly ribbed upper surface. Leaf-margins are rough (DEC 2005, Harden 1993).

Club Spear-grass is found south of the Far Western Plains of NSW, and west into South Australia, north of Overland Corner (Vickery et al. 1986), and the Murray-Sunset National Park and Towan Plains regions of Victoria (Briggs & Leigh 1996).

In South Australia, Club Spear-grass is found in the Murray, Yorke Peninsula, Gairdner-Torrens, North-Western and Eyre Peninsula regions around most Gypsum Salt Lakes (SAALNRM 2008a). The species may also be found commonly over the Nullarbor Plain, South Australia (Robertson 2000, pers. comm.).

In NSW, the species is known only from Nulla Nulla Station, south-west of the Far Western Plains, which is the original description site (type locality). In Victoria it is known from the Towan Plains Flora and Fauna Reserve, Murray-Sunset National Park and the Raak Plain (DEC 2005).

Total extent of occurrence and area of occupancy are unknown for the species. In the Eyre Peninsula region of South Australia, the extent of occurrence is approximately 8813 km2 though the area of occupancy is 0.1km2 (SAALNRM 2008a).

On the Eyre Peninsula there are five subpopulations with an estimated 10 000 individuals (Pobke 2007). Club Spear-grass is known in NSW only from Nulla Station, with the total population estimated at over 200 000 individuals (DECC NSW 2002, DECC NSW 2005). Exclusion fencing has been placed around 110 000 tussocks to protect the population from grazing pressure (DECC NSW 2002). In Victoria, there are an estimated 2000 plants (DECC NSW 2005). Club Spear-grass occurs in Lake Gilles Conservation Reserve (Pobke 2007). Club Spear-grass has a scattered distribution throughout much of South Australia, with 26 localities recorded (State Herbarium of South Australia 2007).

The Club Spear-grass is known in the following conservation reserves (DEC 2005, SAALNRM 2008a):

  • Lake Gilles Conservation Reserve, South Australia
  • Towan Plains Flora and Fauna Reserve, Victoria
  • Murray-Sunset National Park, Victoria

Club Spear-grass occurs on crests, slopes and spurs often on the western to north-western side of large lunettes of flour gypsum (Kopi), or in sandy loam soils, and most often around salt lakes. The species is especially common where gypsum is exposed at the surface (Ayres et al. 1996, Victorian Workshop 2000, pers. comm).
In South Australia it is known to grow within 60–200 m above sea level. Near Lake Wannamanna, South Australia, the species has been recorded growing in the low dunes and swales surrounding salt scalds (SAALNRM 2008a). In NSW, populations are restricted to gypseous lunettes and copi rises, on the margins of relict lakes and on crests and sides of lunettes above old lakes (NSW DECCW 2005ot).

The habitat of Club Spear-grass varies from chenopod shrubland, and mixed-species grassland, through to grassland dominated by Club Spear-grass. On the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, Club Spear-grass has been recorded growing in association with Nealie (Acacia rigens), Helm's Oak-bush (Allocasuarina helmsii) and an understorey of Zygophyllum aurantiacum, Enneapogon sp. and small Compositae sp (SAALNRM 2008a). Vegetation on or around the lunettes at Nulla Station, NSW is an open shrubland of Maireana sedifolia, Atriplex vesicaria, Maireana pyramidata and Rhagodia spinescens with scattered Casuarina pauper, Alectryon oleifolius and Eucalyptus gracilis. Other species associated with Club Spear-grass include Austrostipa nitida, Dissocarpus paradoxus, Eremophila sturtii, Sclerolaena obliquicuspis and Myoporum species (Ayers et al. 1996, DEC 2005).

Flowering of Club Spear-grass occurs in response to rain in summer months, mainly December to January (DEC 2005, Harden 1993). Pollination is suggested to be via wind, with hybridisation thought to occur amongst similar grass species (SAALNRM 2008a). Seed dispersal is via wind, rain and flood events, with the awn and sharp point of the floret assumed to aid in seed burial (DEC 2005). In general, grass seed is thought to have a short viability span of 3-5 years (DEC 2005). Soil disturbance may stimulate Club Spear-grass germination (SAALNRM 2008a).

Fire requirements that benefit the species are unknown, other than the theory that too frequent or intense fires would be expected to impact on the recruitment success of the species. The NSW Rural Fire Service recommends that Club Spear-grass is not burnt more frequently than once every 10 years (RFS 2004).

No threats data available.

Ayers, D., S. Nash & K. Baggett (Eds) (1996). Threatened Species of Western New South Wales. Hurstville: NSW NPWS.

Briggs, J.D. & J.H. Leigh (1996). Rare or Threatened Australian Plants - Revised Edition. Collingwood: CSIRO Publishing.

Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) NSW 2002 (undated). annual report 2001-2002 - conservation assessment. [Online]. Available from:

Harden, G.J. (ed) (1993). Flora of New South Wales, Volume Four. Kensington, NSW: University of NSW Press.

National Parks Policy and Strategy Division (2000). State of the Parks 2000. [Online]. Parks Victoria. Available from:

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2005ot). Austrostipa nullanulla (A Spear-grass) - profile. [Online]. Available from:

Pobke, K. (2007). Draft recovery plan for 23 threatened flora taxa on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia 2007-2012. [Online]. South Australia: Department for Environment and Heritage. Available from:

Robertson, G (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service) (2000). Personal communication.

Rural Fire Service (RFS) (2004). Threatened species hazard reduction list: Part 1-Plants. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 12-May-2008].

South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board (SAALNRM) (2008a). South Australian Arid Lands Biodiversity Strategy Draft: Grawler Conservation Priorities. [Online]. Available from:

State Herbarium of South Australia (2007c). Plant distribution mapper. [Online]. Available from:

Vickery, J.W., S.W.L. Jacobs & J. Everett (1986). Taxonomic studies in Stipa (Poaceae) in Australia. Telopea. 3(1):1-132.

Victorian Workshop Participants (2000). Personal communication.

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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). Austrostipa nullanulla in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 24 Sep 2014 06:49:34 +1000.