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Toetoe clump and plumes
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Subfamily: Danthonioideae
Tribe: Danthonieae
Genus: Austroderia

See text.

Austroderia is a genus of five species of tall grasses native to New Zealand, commonly known as toetoe (sometimes misspelled as "toitoi")[1] The species are A. toetoe, A. fulvida, A. splendens, A. richardii and A. turbaria. They were recently reclassified in 2011 from the Cortaderia genus .[2] The name toetoe comes from the Māori language.

Two closely related South America species are Cortaderia jubata and C. selloana (Pampas Grass), which have been introduced to New Zealand and are often mistaken for toetoe. These introduced species tend to take over from the native toetoe and are regarded as invasive weeds. Among the differences between Pampas, Toetoe has a drooping flower head, a cream coloured plume, and the leaves do not break when tugged firmly. Toetoe also has a white, waxy bloom on the leaf-sheath and conspicuous veins between the midrib and leaf margin.[1]

Common uses[edit]

The Māori used the toetoe leaves to make baskets, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching. It was also used to make containers to cook food in hot springs. The flower stalks were also useful - as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling. The seed heads themselves were used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding. Other medicinal uses included treatment of diarrhoea, kidney complaints, and burns. Toetoe is New Zealand's largest native grass, growing in clumps up to 3m in height.

Common names[edit]

Māori names including toetoe are: toetoe-kākaho, toetoe-mokoro, toetoe-rākau. The flower stem is kākaho.[1]

Toetoe is also known by its common name 'Toi toi' and 'Cutty grass', especially amongst children, because the serrated leaf edges that can inflict cuts to the human skin. This name is also used in New Zealand to refer to Gahnia setifola (mapere) and Cyperus ustulatus (upoko tangata).



  1. ^ a b c Toetoe, hosted on the NZ Landcare research Maanaki Whenua website. Page accessed 20 November 2010.
  2. ^ "Austroderia fulvida syn. Cortaderia fulvida". The Native Plant Centre Ltd. 2007. 
  3. ^ Lawrie Metcalf (1998). The Cultivation of New Zealand Native Grasses. Auckland, New Zealand: Random House. pp. 51–53.