Xanth_johnsonii.JPG (61623 bytes)Xanthorrhea johnsonii: is a member of the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. There are about 28 species and are found in all states. Xanthorrheas are known as Grass Trees and are native to Australia . The common name refers to the long, narrow leaves.
Grass Trees produce flower spikes carried on a long stalk known as a scape. The flower heads contain large numbers of small, white or cream flowers. The blooms are rich in nectar and attract everything from small native bees to large honeyeaters.
Species are identified principally by the length of the scape in relation to the flower spike. Some flower spikes plus scapes may reach a height of five metres. The cross-section of the grass-like leaves also play a part in species identification.
Grass Trees have blackened trunks indicating their ability to survive successive bushfires.
Xanthorrhea johnsonii has a trunk that may reach a height of five metres. The young, bright green leaves are carried in a spreading, upright tuft. Older leaves often bend downwards and form a skirt around the trunk.
The combined length of the flower spike and scape may reach a height of two metres. Flowering occurs between April and December.
Xanthorrhea johnsonii grows in sclerophyll forest and heath usually in well-drained situations. The species occurs in northern New South Wales and Queensland .
All Grass Trees, including this species, are slow growing and may take many years to flower.
Parts of Xanthorrhea johnsonii had a multiple of uses by Aboriginal people. The flowering stalks were used as spear shafts. One stalk was spun against another for fire making. Resin is secreted at the base of each leaf base. This was mixed with bees wax and used for fastening spear points and axe heads.
All Xanthorrheas are protected in New South Wales . When you purchase plants ensure that they have a label indicating that they were collected legally, under licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Grass Trees may be used in native garden beds to create an eye-catching feature. They may also be grown in containers.
The specimen illustrated is growing in the North Coast Regional Botanic Garden in Coffs Harbour .
Xanthorrhea johnsonii may be propagated from seed but plants may take decades to flower.