Leaf and stem

Hairy ligule

Seed heads

Seed head forming with white hairs starting to show

Root and base of plant

Andropogon virginicus (left) and Themeda australis (native kangaroo grass)(right)

Scientific Name

  Andropogon virginicus L.

Common Names

whisky grass, broomsedge





Distinguishing Characteristics

This is a tall grass to 1m which is branched, erect and perennial (living more than 1 growing season). It grows in tufts and is distinguished by having very erect central stems surrounded by drooping leaves around the base which are dry/brown or green.

Leaves have a hairy ligule (appendage between leaf blade and stem). Leaf blades may be flat or folded with a hairy  upper surface towards the base.

Inflorescence (group of flowers/fruit) is elongated and narrow. Seed is surrounded by white hairs giving the seedhead a fluffy appearance.


Other plants easily confused with this plant

It could be confused with the native kangaroo grass (Themeda australis also called Themeda triandra). Kangaroo grass turns reddish brown while  whiskey grass becomes straw-coloured over winter. Kangaroo grass has tall non hairy seedheads on long bare stems growing from the base, whereas whisky grass has branched seed heads with white hairs surrounding the seed. 

Sources & References

"Plantnet Flora Online"  (2005)  

"Weeds - an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia" by B. A. Auld and R. W. Medd


Prepared by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by IEWF, Oct 2005 

Checked by Barbara Wiecek, Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, June 2006