"Triodia pungens" (green) and "Triodia basedowii" (blue-grey)
Triodia pungens (green) and Triodia basedowii (blue-grey)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Clade: Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Chloridoideae
Tribe: Cynodonteae
Subtribe: Triodiinae
Genus: Triodia
R.Br. (1810)
  • Monodia S.W.L.Jacobs (1985), non Breton & Faurel (1970), fungal name.
  • Plectrachne Henrard (1929)
  • Symplectrodia Lazarides (1985)

Triodia is a large genus of hummock grass endemic to Australia. The species of this genus are known by the common name spinifex, although they are not a part of the coastal genus Spinifex.[1] Many soft-leaved Triodia species were formerly included in the genus Plectrachne.[3] Triodia is known as tjanpi (grass) in central Australia,[4][5] and have several traditional uses amongst the Aboriginal Australian peoples of the region.

A multiaccess key (SpiKey) is available as a free application for identifying the Triodia of the Pilbara (28 species and one hybrid).[6]


Triodia species are perennial Australian hummock grasses that grow in arid regions. Their leaves (30–40 centimetres long) are subulate (awl-shaped, with a tapering point). The leaf tips, which are high in silica, can break off in the skin, leading to infections.[citation needed]


Spinifex has had many traditional uses for Aboriginal Australians. Several species were (and are) used extensively as materials for basket weaving.[7] The seeds were collected and ground to make seedcakes. Spinifex resin was an important adhesive used in spear-making. Burning spinifex produces a strong black smoke, and smoke signals made in this way were an effective means of communication with families and groups over substantial distances.

The species Triodia wiseana is used for building shelters; bunched together it is used for trapping fish against creek beds. It is called baru in the languages of the Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma people, the English term is hard spinifex.[8]

A controlled burn of Triodia (1989), CSIRO

Triodia nanofibres have been used to reinforce rubber and latex products. As of 2023, a Brisbane-based company has raised funds to develop medical gels from spinifex resin.[9]


Species currently include:[10][11]

Formerly included species

Numerous species once considered members of Triodia have been reassigned to other genera, including: Austrofestuca, Chascolytrum, Danthonia, Dasyochloa, Deschampsia, Diplachne, Disakisperma, Erioneuron, Gouinia, Graphephorum, Leptocarydion, Notochloe, Plinthanthesis, Poa, Puccinellia, Rytidosperma, Scolochloa, Spartina, Torreyochloa, Trichoneura, Tridens, Triplasis, Tripogon, and Vaseyochloa.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b M. Lazarides (1997). "A revision of Triodia including Plectrachne (Poaceae, Eragrostideae, Triodiinae)". Australian Systematic Botany. 10 (3): 381–489. doi:10.1071/SB96012.
  2. ^ "Plants of the World Online". Retrieved 3 July 2023.
  3. ^ Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onwards. The grass genera of the world: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval; including synonyms, morphology, anatomy, physiology, phytochemistry, cytology, classification, pathogens, world and local distribution, and references. Version: 28 November 2005
  4. ^ "Special spinifex". Bush Heritage Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Fact Sheet: Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park" (PDF). Parks Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  6. ^ M.D. Barrett, B.M. Anderson, K.R.Thiele (2017-06-05). "SPIKEY: An interactive key to Triodia spinifex grasses of the Pilbara, Western Australia Version". Welcome to Identic. Retrieved 2020-05-02.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Our Artists". Tjanpi Desert Weavers. 7 January 2019. Retrieved 27 December 2022.
  8. ^ Burndud (1990). Wanggalili; Yinjibarndi and Ngarluma Plants. Juluwarlu Aboriginal Corporation. p. 17.
  9. ^ "Medical gels made from spinifex grass to provide 'safer' treatments, jobs for Indigenous Australians – ABC News". Retrieved 2023-03-09.
  10. ^ "Triodia". The Plant List. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  11. ^ Australia, Atlas of Living. "Triodia". Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  12. ^ Anderson, Benjamin M.; Thiele, Kevin R.; Barrett, Matthew D. (20 October 2017). "A revision of the Triodia basedowii species complex and close relatives (Poaceae: Chloridoideae)". Australian Systematic Botany. 30 (3): 197–229. doi:10.1071/SB17011.
  13. ^ "Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved 19 January 2019.