There is no better time to spot Chilean Needle Grass (CNG) than right now. CNG is an invasive pest weed that poses a major threat to primary production and the biodiversity of dry grasslands.

Chilean needle grass close up

Once established, CNG is very difficult to eliminate. It is avoided by stock and develops a lasting seed bank. The seeds are a sharp, corkscrew shape, which catch on animal hides, clothing and machinery.

CNG seeds can hitchhike on agricultural equipment, machinery, stock, feed, motorbikes and vehicles including recreational 4WDs. Vehicles and machinery are often sourced from the Hawkes Bay which is an area with quite a large distribution of CNG. Therefore, we all need to be vigilant as we don’t want to see this pest become established on the Chatham Islands. Try to minimise the movement of stock to reduce the likelihood of contamination and spread of any seeds – no one will want to graze or buy stock if it’s contaminated with CNG.

It looks like the seed will set a couple of weeks earlier this year and the purple seed panicle is already highly visible. Please keep an eye out for CNG on your property, around stock/sale yards or on roadsides.

If you suspect that you have found it, please do not try to pull it out. Instead, take a photo and send it to Kerri.Moir@ecan.govt.nz with details of the location or call 03 305 0013 for assistance. If you think you have seen it, report it!

For more information about CNG, including tips on how to identify this grass, please visit the Facebook page, Chilean Needle Grass – stopping its spread in NZ(external link), or go to our Pest Management page.

Thanks for your help with reducing the potential impact of CNG on the Chatham Islands.