Enneapogon polyphyllus

leafy nineawn


Enneapogon polyphyllus

(Domin.) N.T.Burb. 1941

pronounced: en-nee-of-POH-gon pol-ee-FILL-uss

(Poaceae — the grass family)


common names: leafy nineawn, limestone bottlewashers

native 4Enneapogon is from two Greek words, εννεα (ennea), nine, and πωγων (pogon), the beard, referring to the nine plumose awn-tipped lobes of the lemmas. This genus of grasses, of which there are 16 species found in Australia, is generally known as pappusgrass or feather pappusgrass, from the Greek παππος (pappos), down on the seeds of certain grasses. Quite a few species have ‘bottlewasher’ in their common names, and it is not hard to see why. Polyphyllus is also from the Greek, πολυς (polys), much, many, great, and φυλλον (phyllon), a leaf – the culms are many-leafed in comparison with other related species. The species is endemic, and is widely distributed over most parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland, and is also found in north-west NSW. The clump photographed was found in a clearing on the edge of the scrub by the side of Sooning Street, Nelly Bay, not far from X-Base.

This is a short-lived self-seeding grass with straw-coloured fluffy flowerheads. In some areas it is an annual, and in others a perennial. The culms are 3  –48 cm tall. The lateral branches are themselves sparsely branched. The ligule is a fringe of hairs. The leaf-blades are persistent, either involute or convolute, 1 – 3 mm wide, with an apex that is either acute or acuminate.

The inflorescence is a panicle, usually 4 – 11 cm long, 1 – 2 cm wide. The spikelets are solitary, with the fertile spikelets at least 3-flowered, consisting of one fertile floret, with diminished florets at the apex.


Photographs taken 2010, Nelly Bay
Page last updated 20th December 2018