Title "Panic" takes over the Riverina, but it's not hairy [The Daily Advertiser] Degree of recognition Regional Media name/outlet The Daily Advertiser Media type Web Country Australia Date 15/02/18 Description The tumble weeds currently rolling around Wagga and surrounds are a lot more sinister than they look.
Despite what you may have heard, they’re not hairy panic, or witchgrass.
“What we’re seeing here is panicum hillmanii, or Hillman’s panic, which was introduced from North America,” Charles Sturt University phD student Yuchi Chen said.
“We now have evidence to prove they’re spreading across NSW, most likely from Victoria or South Australia.”
The noxious weed was introduced around the 1900s. Herbarium records indicate 15 years ago there were very few samples in NSW, but now it’s taken over in the Riverina.
Graham Centre researchers collected specimens from 82 locations in a 200km radius around Wagga in February to March last year.
Around the region Hillman’s panic represented more than 90 per cent of samples.
Although tests are ongoing, researchers hypothesize it is now the dominant species in southern NSW.
Apart from being unsightly and a serious fire danger, the plant is potentially harmful for grazing livestock.
Most panic grasses contain one or more chemical compounds (saponins) which can cause liver damage and secondary photosensitisation in animals.
This causes severe skin irritation, scabbing and swelling and can be lethal.
“Yuchi’s research has helped us identify which species are here in the Riverina, everyone calls it hairy panic, which is native, but that’s not actually that prevalent… we’re now taking a molecular approach to study the DNA to be able to explain which species is which,” his supervisor Professor Leslie Weston said.
“We know hairy panic and witchgrass cause photosensitisation, what we’re doing now is looking to determine which saponins cause it and which species profile as more toxic.”
“If they've found the grass they should keep in mind to check livestock regularly because from far away it’s hard to observe mild to medium photosensitisation symptoms,” he said.
Producer/Author Madeleine Clarke URL www.dailyadvertiser.com.au/story/5230169/panic-takes-over-the-riverina-but-its-not-hairy/?cs=148#slide=1 Persons Yuchi Chen, Leslie Weston, Panos Loukopoulos, Jane Quinn, Xiaocheng Zhu
- hairy panic grass
- veterinary pathology