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Grass Trees

Xanthorrhoea glauca


Cartoon characters? Sadly not, although they do have character. These are Grass Trees, and for me just to hear that name evokes memories of the Australian bush with all its quintessential sights, sounds and smells that I so enjoy. The various Grass Tree species are some of the most iconic of all Australian native plants. I spotted these in a beautiful avenue of hundreds of trees, amongst thousands of trees on this mountainside, and most of them were flowering, hence the flower spikes. The growth rate of Xanthorrhoea is incredibly slow, and it's often generalized that all species grow at the rate of about 2½ cm per year. Actually, after the initial establishment phase, the rate of growth varies widely from species to species. Thus, while a five-metre-tall member of the fastest growing Xanthorrhoea may be 200 years old, a member of a more slowly growing species of equal height may have aged to 600 years. I have no idea which category X. glauca falls into, but I guarantee some of the specimens at this location are old-timers by Grass Tree standards. The various Xanthorrhoea species would have originated in the times of Gondwana. Old-timers, indeed! Many of these trees also show evidence of fire.


This spotting was at the summit of Mount Kiangarow, the highest point in Bunya Mountains National Park, southeast Queensland. A wonderful mix of flora on the mountain, ranging from subtropical rainforests and vine forests, to open eucalypt forests. This species thrives in well drained, aerated soils that have a low nutrient content. Here's some info on the park - https://parks.des.qld.gov.au/parks/bunya... https://findapark.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/...


Traditional Aboriginal (Ngunnawal) uses: The flower spike soaked in water makes a sweet drink. The growing part of the leaf stem and the white leaf bases can be eaten. The resin from the base of the leaves is a glue used when making weapons and axes. And the dried flower stems form a base for fire drills used when making a fire. PS: The most widely known common name for Xanthorrhoea is Black Boy. This name refers to the purported similarity in appearance of the trunked species to an Aboriginal boy holding an upright spear. Some people now consider this name to be offensive, or at least belonging to the past, preferring instead to use the name Grass Tree.

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Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thanks, Brian and Despina. I appreciate the congrats. It's just one of those spottings that puts a smile on the face :)

DespinaTsafetopoulou 6 months ago

Congrats Neil on SOTW , this is a great spotting!

Brian38 6 months ago

Congrats Neil! I love tree spottings in general, but this one is really special!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thanks, Michael. It's 30 years since I've been to Perth. It's a nice town.

Michael Strydom
Michael Strydom 6 months ago

Congrats on SOTW Neil. Very nice grass and brings back memories of Perth for me!!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thank you very much, Daniele. I'm surprised, considering how extraordinary the other nominations were. And thanks also, Antonio and Mark. The best kind of grass, Mark. It doesn't need mowing.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 6 months ago

Very nice grass indeed. Congrats.

I see also a camel head too :-)
Great series as usual Neil,fantastic information and the habitat photos to show the are,perfect spotting,congrats on another SOTW and thanks for sharing

DanielePralong 6 months ago

You've done it again Neil! Your grass trees have been voted Spotting of the Week. On top of excellent, informative notes and multiple images showing all aspects of these plants and their habitat, you received a special mention for describing their traditional usage.

"Does anyone else see a camel's head? These unusual and iconic Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea glauca) have been voted Spotting of the Week! The genus Xanthorrhoea is endemic to Australia, and all species share the common name of "grass tree". These plants form a trunk from old leaf bases and a naturally occurring resin. Xanthorrhoea means "yellow flow", a reference to the resin's yellow color".

On the topic of Australian flora, a recent study has found that over 50 Australian plant species are threatened with extinction within the next decade. Read about it here: https://buff.ly/2CCNAZy



Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thanks, Maria. They are fascinating plants, and I quite literally laughed out loud when I saw this big, whiskery face looking down at me. It looked so animated.

Maria dB
Maria dB 6 months ago

Interesting spotting and lots of interesting information about this plant!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thanks, Ashley. I appreciate the nomination. Fingers crossed :)

AshleyT 6 months ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thanks, Daniele. That's a lovely compliment, and it made me smile when you used the local term 'bushwalk'. Perhaps when you're in Brisbane next, we can do another bushwalk?

DanielePralong 6 months ago

They do have character! Great complete spotting as usual Neil. With you I always feel I'm taken on a bushwalk!

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 6 months ago

Thank you, Brian and Mark. Yes, I can see a camel now. Imagination is a wonderful thing. These grass trees have not been trimmed and are completely natural. They still makes me smile :)

Mark51 6 months ago

looking at the thumbnail photo I swore it looked like a camel's face. Great photo and info.

Brian38 6 months ago

Wow! Great spotting and notes Neil!!

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

QLD, Australia

Lat: -26.83, Long: 151.55

Spotted on Sep 9, 2018
Submitted on Dec 22, 2018

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