Curly Mitchell grass (Astrebla lappacea) is a densely tufted, warm-season perennial with stout rhizomes and growing 30-90cm tall. This native perennial which lives for up to 20 years. It is very tolerant of drought, surviving by becoming dormant during the dry periods. It has the ability to reshoot rapidly with warm-season rain and regenerate readily from seed given suitable conditions. You can find this native grass growing abundantly in arid and semi-arid areas of inland NSW and Queensland states. Typically areas which receive an annual rainfall of between 250 to 550 mm. It also occurs naturally in the downs and rangelands in northwestern NSW and in NT, SA, WA and north and west Queensland. Broken Hill and Dubbo are its most southerly limits. You are likely to see naturally occurring areas of Curly Mitchell on the floodplains of the upper Darling River. These floodplains tend to be alkaline soils with almost a self-mulching clay soils. Curly Mitchell grass is suited to clay soils but you will find it grows well sometimes on desert loams.
- Drought resistant – Mitchell grass has shallow surface roots which can take advantage of light showers of rain, as well as deeper vertical roots to access moisture in the subsoil.
- Low tolerance to long-term flooding
- Dislikes competition from weeds or other species
- Very high heat tolerance
Curly Mitchell grass provides a good year round pasture, just remember not overgrazed. It is also a really useful grass for restoration and land rehabilitation. Particularly in arid and semi-arid areas on suitable soil types. Drought dormancy allows survival during extended dry periods and able to extract soil moisture from relatively dry soil.