Grass trees are a group of very distinctive and highly valued Australian native plants. Over the years, many people have desired to have advanced specimens in their gardens. Unfortunately, the slow growth rates have encouraged harvesting from the bush, threatening not only the trees but their associated ecosystems.
Today, these activities are regulated (see below). Harvesting of plants from natural areas solely for the landscaping trade is not desirable, especially given the difficulty of transplanting Xanthorrhoea and the high failure rate. However, removal of whole plants from areas which are going to be developed is preferable to their being bulldozed and lost completely. Buying only legally obtained plants from reputable operators should give you a better chance of your trees surviving.
Seed-grown plants might not yet have the characteristic trunks, but given the current fashion for ornamental grasses and other strappy-leaved, tussocky or clump-forming plants, why not try some young grass trees in your landscape? Providing the conditions are right, they could be a long-lived, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant alternative, and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to conserve grass trees without removing whole plants from the bush.
More information on culture of Xanthorrhoea in future updates.
Species which occur naturally in Queensland include:
There are a number of other species occurring in Australia (see the
Australian Plant Name Index). Kingia australis occurs in WA.
Only buy plants which have been legally obtained
In Queensland, certain types of native plants, including Xanthorrhoea species, are subject to special regulations to help protect them in the wild. These laws cover activities such as harvesting, propagating, movement of and trade in whole pants and plant parts. When purchasing grass trees, look for plants carrying an official government tag indicating they have been supplied by a licensed operator.
The following links have been provided for general information but they (and the information contained in them) are NOT necessarily complete or up-to-date. Be sure to CHECK WITH APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES yourself if you think such laws may affect you (including private individuals). If you're outside Qld (or trading with others outside Qld) check with relevant bodies governing those locations.
If you want to find out more about current laws concerning propagation, movement or trade in protected plants in Qld, visit the Department of Environment and Resource Management website. For some factsheets to get you started, try: www.derm.qld.gov.au/services_resources/item_list.php?series_id=200678. Contact the department for further information if you wish to engage in such activities.
Some garden centres might carrry grasstrees from time to time. Native plant specialists are of course your best bet. Call ahead and ask what they have in stock and whether they can order any in for you.
For very large feature specimens, you will probably need to go through a specialist supplier and will probably need to engage a landscaper to install. You won't want to take chances with such expensive and precious plants.
The Vets' Grasstree Xanthorrhoea australis
) Post at the Toowoomba Plants blog
(Some information on cultivation) Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants
The Passage of Fire
(includes some comments about Xanthorrhoea) Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants
Some references about the relationship between Xanthorrhoea and other species and ecosystems:
Some references about use of Xanthorrhoea by humans (apart from landscaping):
Possible misspellings: Xanthorhoea, Xanthorhea, Xanthorrea, Xanthorea, Xanthorea, Xantharrhoea, Xantharhoea.
Warning: collection, propagation, movement, sale or purchase of any Australian native plant may be subject to laws and regulations. Be sure to check with appropriate authorities before engaging in these activities, even on private property. Other laws may also apply to the treatment and movement of plant or soil material (for example, to control the spread of weeds, pests and diseases.)