So named because its distinct large red-brown spikelets resemble a kangaroo paw, kangaroo grass is a perennial that grows in tufts or clusters up to 1.5 meters tall and a half meter across. Its leaves are 10-50 centimeters long and 2-5 millimeters wide, with a green to gray color, drying to orange-brown in summer.
The flowering period is from December to February. It produces distinct spikelets which occur on branched stems. The spikelets have long distinguishing spathes at their base and bear florets with black bristle-like awns of 4-7cm long, which remain with the seed when it falls. The seed head is relatively large, often reddish in color with a drooping appearance.
Grown in most parts of Australia, Kangaroo grass tolerates many types of soil as long as there is some moisture. It can be found in grasslands and grassy woodlands. However, the grass is very sensitive to grazing and appears to be most common where grazing disturbance is low.
Kangaroo grass was once farmed around Australia by Aboriginals for the production of flour. The seeds can be ground into an aromatic flour that makes a bread with a distinctive aroma and nutty taste. They can also be used to make seed cakes. Today, kangaroo grass is farmed only by small Aboriginal communities with the intent of producing flour. It is also found around Australia in the wild.