Black Spear grass (Heteropogon contortus) is found across the northern parts of Australia. It occurs naturally in far north Western Australia, Northern Territory, eastern Queensland, and even as far south as northern NSW. This grass grows where rainfall is between 700 and 1200 mm per annum. In particular, it thrives where there is a marked wet and dry season. Black Spear grass is a typical species of tropical and sub-tropical tall grasslands. You will find it typically growing as an understorey in eucalypt woodlands or open forests.
- Intermittent grazing
- High temperatures
- A wide variety of soils
- Drought tolerant
This species grows on a wide variety of soil types from sandy loams to clay loams. It grows best on coarse textured soils. It does not grow well on clay soils due to poor drainage / issues with compaction.
Black Spear grass is a significant pasture grass in northern Australia. You will find it less suitable for sheep grazing due to the spear like seed head and the damage that it can cause due to its sharpness. Many areas were once dominated by this grass in particular. Along side Kangaroo grass, this native pasture grass has been overgrazed and . That combined with generally an increase in annuals and broad-leafed weeds has seen a significant decrease in its abundance. Black Spear grass is great for regenerating overgrazed pastures. It often occurs naturally along with Silky Bluegrass and provides good grazing for cattle at times when the Silky Bluegrass is less palatable.