Snow Tussock

Snow tussock (Chionochloa rigida) is an iconic feature of the rugged mountains of Otago’s high country and many other areas neighbouring the eastern side of the Southern Alps such as the Mackenzie Basin and inland Southland and Canterbury.

Left undisturbed some species can grow to chest height and support a dense and damp slippery undercover of discarded leaves. It is also known as snowgrass, and/or red or silver tussock.

It is an important and valuable plant for New Zealand’s natural water supply because it sustains high water yield through reduced transpiration and stabilises soils in the sub alpine environments prone to erosion. Catchments covered in tussock produce more water than those covered with pasture or forest.

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