There are two types of toetoe that are found within the Whanganui region –
Austroderia toetoe and Austroderia fulvida
Where does it grow?
Austroderia toetoe grows in damp conditions. Austroderia fulvida can tolerate dry conditons.
What does it look like?
It is a giant tussock grass with leaves that can grow up to about 3m. Toetoe has course, narrow green leaves with sharp edges that can easily cut your skin. It has numerous beautiful large cream flower plumes that grow on very tall stems that have a slight droop.
Why is it important to Castlecliff beach?
It is important because potentially it has the ability to bind sand and it is known to be resistant to salt winds. It can be grown either from seed or can be propagated by division. It is also a very attractive plant which would add to the diverse native plants on the dunes. This year Coast Care has trialled planting toetoe fulvida.
Toetoe can often be confused with pampas grass which is not a native. Pampas grass is a serious weed.
There are several simple ways of telling the two grasses apart. The flower of the toetoe has a distinctive droop of its flower stem. The flower stem of the pampas grass grows very erect. The flowers differ in colour. Toetoe is a deep creamy white. Pampas grass is whiter and also can often have pink/purplish flowers. Toetoe flowers in spring and early summer but it does retain its head. Pampas grass flowers in late January to late May.The leaf of toetoe is very strong and it is difficult to pull it. The leaf of pampas breaks easily if pulled.