• Public Gallery  • Help  
• Join Now!  • Log In  • Feature Tour
 gladysclancy | Home > Trees > 

The Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea preissii) is very much part of the West Australian landscape and uniquely Australian. They fascinated the first European settlers, since they were unlike any other known plant. In fact, they are a living fossil developed early in the evolutionary stakes for flowering plants . Although the grass tree has been of immense value to the aborigines and colonists, its future lies in the hands of the landowners and nature reserve managers, who are blessed with the woodland remnants which support the remaining populations. It is a true icon of the Aussie bush and as such, provides a unique identity to our Australian landscape.

Album by gladysclancy. Photos by Gladys. 1 - 66 of 66 Total. 8775 Visits.
Start Slideshow 
Enlarge photo 1
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)are native to Western Australia where they are mainly found on the sandy coastal plain.

Enlarge photo 2
Mature Grasstree
These remarkable plants have a lifespan of 600 years but are very slow-growing. The trunk takes a decade to form initially as it is composed of a mass of old leaf bases held together by a natural resin. It is then a further 20 years or more before the mass of thin, linear leaves rises above it. From then on, it grows only about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8in) in height per year.

Enlarge photo 3
Xanthorrhoea preissii
From then on, it grows only about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8in) in height per year. Plants have been observed which have taken 27 years to grow 30 centimetres (one foot).

Enlarge photo 4
Grasstrees with Flower Spikes
The Grasstree can grow to a height of over 4 metres and often has branches. It’s growth rate is only about 1 metre every 100 years.

Enlarge photo 5
Base of Flower Spike
The Flower Spike emerges from the crown of dense leaves.

Enlarge photo 6
Creamy White Flowers opening on Flower Spike

Enlarge photo 7
Flower Spike of Creamy White Flowers

Enlarge photo 8
Long Flower Spike
The Flower Spike grows quickly at a rate of 2 – 3 cm per day reaching to a height of over 3 metres. Mature plants will result in flowering every 2 – 3 years.

Enlarge photo 9
Close-up of Flower Spike
Flowers are densely packed on the long Flower Spike.

Enlarge photo 10
Grasstree Flowers
The flowering spear of the plant attracts honey eating birds, bees, ants, and butterflies. Flowers are usually seen from June to December.

Enlarge photo 11
Grasstree seed capsules and Seeds
After the flowers, come the seeds! Cultivation presents great challenges, with the seed taking up to a year to germinate and the young grow at a rate of only a centimetre or so a year.

Enlarge photo 12
Young Grasstrees
These will take many years to reach maturity.

Enlarge photo 13
Young Grass Tree

Enlarge photo 14
Grasstrees of varying ages

Enlarge photo 15
Grasstree Twins

Enlarge photo 16
Grasstrees in a Reserve

Enlarge photo 17
Grasstrees at Cooloongup

Enlarge photo 18
Grasstree in Suburbia

Enlarge photo 19
Grasstrees and Native Vegetation

Enlarge photo 20
Grasstree with many heads
Beautiful old examples are often survivors of bushfires and develop into architectural masterpieces. Bushfires can cause their blackened trunk (1 to 2 metres) to branch into two or even more heads. These consist of thick, rough corky bark, surrounded by a whorl of long, wiry leaves with unique flowers.

Enlarge photo 21
Healthy Grasstrees

Enlarge photo 22
Gnarled branch of a Grasstree

Enlarge photo 23
Broken Trunk reveals inner core

Enlarge photo 24
Cross section of Grasstree Trunk

Enlarge photo 25
A fallen Grasstree
This one would be hundreds of years old.

Enlarge photo 26
Fungi growing nearby

Enlarge photo 27
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
The Aboriginal name for the Grasstree is 'Balga'.

Enlarge photo 28
Flower Spikes usually straight, but sometimes deformed
Grasstrees often flower as a direct response to a very recent bushfire. This ability to be one of the first flowers to appear after a bushfire ensures a food source for many insects and birds, in an otherwise alien, blackened moonscape environment.

Enlarge photo 29
Aboriginal Tools from Grasstrees
The light straight flower stalk served as a butt-piece for spears. A tip section of tea tree would then be attached to the end of the spear and hardened in the fire before being used for hunting.

Enlarge photo 30
Flower Spikes
Aboriginals used pieces of very dry flower spike for making fire with a drilling stick.

Enlarge photo 31
Resin from Grasstrees
The leaves produce a hard waterproof resin, which could be collected from the base of the trunk. This resin melts when warmed, but sets hard when cold.

Enlarge photo 32
Resin from Grasstrees
The Resin had a number of uses for Aboriginals including; Forming glue by mixing it with charcoal, beeswax or fine sand and dust. Gluing the cement stone heads to wooden handles and spears to shafts and tips. Waterproofing bark canoes and water carrying vessels.

Enlarge photo 33
Resin from Grasstrees
The versatility of this resin in the every day lives of the aborigines, made it a valuable trading item and was traded amongst tribes for other important collectables.

Enlarge photo 34
Mature Grasstree with many heads
Grasstrees were a 'staple' plant for the aborigines, providing food, drink, fibre and materials for making implements and weapons.

Enlarge photo 35
Aboriginal Food Sources
As a food source, the white, tender sections of leaf bases, the growing points of stem and succulent roots were all eaten regularly. The removal of the growing point was rare as it destroyed the plant altogether. The seeds were collected and ground into a flour to provide dough for cooking a type of damper, within the ashes of a wattle wood fire.

Enlarge photo 36
Aboriginal Food Sources
They frequently dug out edible grubs found at the base of the trunk. The grub's presence could be detected by the observing the dead leaves in the centre of the grass tree crown.

Enlarge photo 37
Aboriginal Food Sources
Small sweet pockets of honey could also be extracted from the carpenter bee's cellular nests, which were often bored in the soft pith of the flower stalk.

Enlarge photo 38
Aboriginal Food Sources
To wash this down, the nectar from the flower could be extracted by soaking it in water filled bark troughs, to produce a thick sweet drink.

Enlarge photo 39
Aboriginal Food Sources
A citric flavoured alcoholic brew could be made from fermenting the nectar over 3 to 5 days. An extra tang was added to the brew by crushing a few 'formic' ants into the beverage.

Enlarge photo 40
Grasstrees in the Park
Grass Trees make excellent native plants in commercial and domestic environments. Once re-established, they make outstanding features.

Enlarge photo 41
Architectural Shape of Mature Grasstree

Enlarge photo 42
Grasstrees in the Park

Enlarge photo 43
Grasstrees in Parkland

Enlarge photo 44
Young and Old Grasstrees

Enlarge photo 45
What is the future of the Grasstree?
The future of the Grasstree lies in the hands of the landowners and nature reserve managers, who are blessed with the woodland remnants which support the remaining populations.

Enlarge photo 46
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
In natural bushland at Yellagonga Regional Park.

Enlarge photo 47
Majestic Old Grasstree
Xanthorrhoea preissi

Enlarge photo 48
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
Yellagonga Regional Park.

Enlarge photo 49
Grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
Grasstrees are very slow growing, with some elderly specimens being amongst the oldest living plants on a worldwide scale, surviving for many hundreds of years.

Enlarge photo 50
Preparing Grasstrees for Removal and Transplantation
These Grasstrees are being removed to make way for a new road. The Developers call this "Progress".

Enlarge photo 51
Preparation for Removal
Transplanting from the bush is not recommended, unless imminent development will destroy the plant.

Enlarge photo 52
Grasstree Removal
Transplanting requires diligence and heavy equipment to extract the very deep underground stems and roots, whilst keeping the residual soil attached.

Enlarge photo 53
Preparing to lift Grasstree
Flooding the root zone helps maintain an intact root system and digging the new sites hole prior to the arrival, followed by deep watering of the plant's roots zone, aids the chances of survival.

Enlarge photo 54
Lifting the Grasstree from its natural habitat

Enlarge photo 55
Transporting Grasstree to waiting vehicle

Enlarge photo 56
Loading Grasstree into Trailer
This one has been sold and is on its way to a new home.

Enlarge photo 57
Grasstrees prepared for Sale
Grasstrees make excellent native plants in commercial and domestic environments.

Enlarge photo 58
Waiting for a new home
Once re-established, they make outstanding features. A little care and planning in the beginning will result in plants that require minimal maintenance or water.

Enlarge photo 59
Grasstrees for Sale
By adding plants to commercial and residential land not only ensures the plants will live on for generations to come, they also make splendid features that require very little water and maintenance. Local councils have discovered how versatile these plants are by planting them in nature strips.

Enlarge photo 60
Waiting for a Buyer
Landscapers use Grasstrees to produce long-life garden features that will never become outdated.

Enlarge photo 61
The Bulldozer moves in

Enlarge photo 62
Too late to save those that were not Sold

Enlarge photo 63
The land is cleared for a new Road
The Developers call it "Progress".

Enlarge photo 64
The new Road under construction
Once the home of many iconic Australian Grasstrees.

Enlarge photo 65
Grasstree Sillhouette at Sunset

Enlarge photo 66
Grasstrees at Sunset
The Grasstree is a true icon of the Australian bush and as such, provides a unique identity to our Australian landscape.

Album Properties. Email Album. Send Invitation. Share URL