Get access

Restoration of indigenous dominance in exotic grassland by the establishment of juvenile Microlaena stipoides plants


  • Mike Dodd,

  • Bruce Burns

  • This article describes part of a research programme conducted for the Auckland Council investigating the restoration of indigenous grassland vegetation on the Auckland volcanic cones.
  • Botanical nomenclature follows Ngā Tipu o Aotearoa – New Zealand Plants,


Two experiments were conducted to determine the establishment success of reintroducing Microlaena stipoides (pātītī, weeping rice grass) into existing high-fertility grassland on the volcanic cones of the Auckland Isthmus. The first experiment monitored the survival and development of juveniles planted in a factorial design including two planting densities, two slope classes and two aspects across three cones. Plant survival during establishment was consistently over 90%. Maximum M. stipoides cover after 2 years (>80%) was achieved on north-facing steep slopes (>25°) at the greater planting density (40 plants/m2). However, results were particularly idiosyncratic to specific cone/topographical combinations. The second experiment, on a flat site on one cone, monitored the survival and development of juveniles planted across four post-planting treatments designed to suppress resident vegetation recovery. Plant survival after 6 months was relatively low (50%), and none of the treatments achieved greater than 5% cover of M. stipoides after 1 year. The chosen post-planting treatments were unable to suppress vigorous recovery of competitive exotic grasses on a moist fertile site. Overall, juvenile planting was shown to be a potentially successful method of Microlaena establishment and could restore indigenous dominance to exotic grassland in this environment, but individual site factors and the high cost of establishment must be considered.

Get access to the full text of this article