Grasses of Australia

AusGrass, an interactive CD ROM, is the largest and most comprehensive identification guide to a plant group ever published. Using either interactive or dichotomous keys, AusGrass enables quick and accurate identification of any of the 1323 native and naturalised species of grass in Australia. This number includes all formally described species and several as-yet undescribed and informal taxa. Keys are provided for many of the recognised subspecies and varieties.

The key is a truly random access tool, which allows users to enter the characteristics of the grass specimen they wish to identify, in any order. The key then sorts out those species possessing the characteristics nominated, rejecting those that do not. By progressively providing additional information about the unknown specimen, users can narrow the search, eventually ending up with just one or a few species. The success of the identification can be checked by comparing the specimen with illustrations from a range of sources, maps and detailed descriptions.

With AusGrass you will be able to:

  • Use either interactive or dichotomous keys to quickly and accurately identify any of the 1323 species of grass in Australia (using fresh or dry specimens, irrespective of whether they are in flower or fruit);
  • easily access comprehensive information for each species, including a botanical description, notes on their distribution and taxonomy, and images for most species including diagnostic line drawings, scanned specimens, photographs and stereomicrographs;
  • quickly navigate between taxa using hyperlinks;
  • browse information by species name, generic name, common name or synonym;
  • view supplementary information including a glossary of terms and an extensive list of references.
A sample page from the AusGrass CD

A sample page from the AusGrass CD

The web-integrated Lucid player provides an easy-to-use interface with clear drawings of the character states, comprehensive fact sheets and a guide to the morphology and terminology of grass parts.

The source of data and contributions by many workers are detailed in the Acknowledgments.

Parallel to publication of this CD ROM, ABRS has jointly published with CSIRO Publishing Flora of Australia volume 43, Poaceae 1, Introduction and Atlas, which provides a range of essays and background information on Australian grasses, a synoptic classification of the grasses and an atlas to all native and naturalised taxa.



Base Data

Producing this work has involved help from many people. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution and assistance from the following people and institutions.

The data and data structures used in AusGrass originated with the Royal Botanic Gardens World Grass Species Database (Clayton 1999 and ongoing). This data and structure has been modified through the incorporation of data from numerous works and regional floras, direct observation and measurement, and through the comments of numerous people. Data for the generic descriptions originates from Grass Genera of the World (Watson & Dallwitz, 1988), with similar additions and changes.

Distribution data

Original data
  • Hnatiuk R.J. 1990. Census of Australian Vascular Plants. AGPS Press, Canberra.
Additional and corrected data
  • HERBRECS. Queensland Herbarium Plant Specimen Database
  • ABRS (Australian Biological Resources Study)
  • Northern Territory Herbarium
  • South Australian Herbarium
  • Florabase. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia.
  • Curtis W.M. & Morris D.I. 1994. The Student’s Flora of Tasmania part 4B. St. Davids Park Publishing, Hobart.


The derivations used in AusGrass are largely derived from the Etymological Dictionary of Grasses (Clifford, 1996) and the manuscript accounts for the Flora of Australia volume 44 (Poaceae).

Development of data

We acknowledge the contribution that the DELTA system made to the development of the key, in particular Dallwitz (1980), Dallwitz et al. (1993 onwards), Dallwitz et al. (1995 onwards) and Dallwitz et al. (2000 onwards).

Testing of the key

  • Queensland Herbarium Identification Team
  • Surrey Jacobs and Gwen Harden, National Herbarium of New South Wales
  • Neville Walsh, National Herbarium of Victoria
  • Terena Lally, Bob Makinson and Mike Lazarides, Australian National Herbarium
  • John Jessop, South Australian Herbarium
  • Terry Macfarlane, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia
  • Clyde Dunlop, ex Northern Territory Herbarium
  • Derek Clayton, The Herbarium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Peter Linder, Institute for Systematic Botany, Zurich
  • Carolyn Weiller, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University
  • Katy Mallett and Lee Halasz, Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra
  • John Clarkson, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service
  • Brian Hacker, Queensland Herbarium
  • Trevor Clifford, Queensland Museum
  • Les Watson, Albany, Western Australia (ex ANU)
  • Gintaras Kantvilas, Tasmanian Herbarium
  • Dave Albrecht, Alice Springs Herbarium
  • Louise Hucks and Barbara Waterhouse, AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service), Mareeba
  • CPITT (Centre for Pest Information and Technology and Transfer, University of Queensland)

Provision of photographs and illustrations

  • Surrey Jacobs and J. Mant, National Herbarium of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Mrs M.B.Williams, Department of Botany, University of New England, Armidale
  • Peter Linder, Institute for Systematic Botany, Zurich
  • Jo Palmer, Australian National Herbarium, Canberra
  • Kevin Kenneally, Landscope Expeditions & Science Publications, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia
  • Brian Carter, One Arm Point, via Broome
  • J.Hosking, New South Wales Department of Agriculture
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), individual photos by:
    • M.D.Crisp
    • S.Donaldson
    • Murray Fagg
    • Denise Grieg
    • R.Hotchkiss
    • Andrew Lyne
    • David Mallinson
    • M.Matthews
    • C.O’Rourke
    • Kevin Thiele
    • Colin Totterdell
    • John Wrigley
  • Northern Territory Herbarium (DNA), Palmerston, Illustrations by Monika Osterkamp Madsen
  • C.Gardner, Western Australian Herbarium, Perth
  • L.Watson and M.Dallwitz, Grass Genera of the World (Watson & Dallwitz, 1988)
  • Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), illustrations by:
    • Eleanor Catherine
    • Diana Boyer
    • Lesley Elkan
    • Enid Mayfield
    • Mali Moir
    • Nicola Oram
    • M.Pieroni
    • C.E.Smith
    • Lindy Spindler
    • C.Wardrop
  • Queensland Herbarium (BRI), photos and illustrations by:
    • George Batianoff
    • S.T.Blake
    • Rod Fensham
    • James Gubby
    • Bryan Hacker
    • Gillian Rankin
    • Margaret Saul
    • Donovan Sharp
    • Bryan Simon
    • Will Smith
    • K.Sparshott
  • Neil Snow, Department Biological Sciences, University of Northern Colorado
  • Eric Anderson, Queensland Department of Primary Industries
  • Dave Albrecht, Alice Springs Herbarium (NT)
  • Robert Soreng, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institute
  • Sheldon Navie, CPITT (Centre for Pest Information and Technology and Transfer), University of Queensland

Publications allowing use of illustrations

Cowie I.D., Short P.S. & M.Osterkamp-Madsen 2001. Floodplain Flora. A flora of the coastal floodplains of the Northern Territory, Australia, Flora of Australia Supplementary series number 10. ABRS, Canberra/Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory, Darwin.

Curtis W.M. & Morris D.I. 1994. The Student’s Flora of Tasmania part 4B. St. Davids Park Publishing, Hobart.

Gardner C.A. 1952. Flora of Western Australia Volume 1, Part 1, Gramineae. Government Printer, Perth.

Harden G.J. 1993. Flora of New South Wales volume 4. New South Wales University Press.

Jessop J.P. & Toelken H.R. 1986. Flora of South Australia 4th edition, part 4. State Herbarium of South Australia.

Stanley T.D. & Ross E.M. 1989. Flora of south-eastern Queensland, Vol. 3. Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Tothill J.C. & Hacker J.B 1983. The Grasses of Southern Queensland. University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia.

Walsh N.G. & Entwisle T.J. (eds.) 1994. Flora of Victoria. Volume 2. Ferns and Allied Plants, Conifers and Monocotyledons. Inkata Press, Melbourne.

Wheeler D.J.B., Jacobs S.W.L. & Norton B.E. 1990. Grasses of New South Wales. University of New England Press, Armidale.

Header and Front Page Design

Graphics Unit, Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra


About this CD ROM

Electronic series

ABRS Identification Series


Australian Biological Resources Study/
Environmental Protection Agency Queensland




Donovan Sharp
Bryan K. Simon


0 643 06861 9


978 0 643 06861 2

System Requirements
  • 95/98/NT(SP6)/ME/2000/XP
  • 16MB RAM; 32MB NT/2000/XP (32MB RAM or higher is recommended)
  • SVGA monitor (800 × 600 or better)
  • CD ROM 4× speed or greater
  • Mouse
  • Internet Explorer (recommended) 5.0 or greater; or
  • Mozilla Web Browser 1.0 or greater
  • Internet connection (optional)

Available from

CSIRO Publishing