Xanthorrhoea – Wikipedia

Xanthorrhoea ([2]) is a genus of about 30 species of flowering crops endemic to Australia. Species are recognized by the title grass tree.


The “trunk” of Xanthorrhoea is a hole ring of collected leaf bases. Nutrient transport is by way of aerial roots that run down the centre.

All are perennials and have a secondary thickening meristem within the stem. Many, however not all, species develop an above floor stem. The stem could take as much as twenty years to emerge. Crops start as a crown of inflexible grass-like leaves, the caudex slowly rising beneath. The principle stem or branches proceed to develop beneath the crown, That is rough-surfaced, constructed from collected leaf-bases across the secondarily thickened trunk. The trunk is usually unbranched, some species will department if the rising level is broken, and others naturally develop quite a few branches.[3][4]

Flowers are borne on an extended spike above a naked part known as a scape; the full size could be over three 4 metres lengthy in some species.[4] Flowering happens in a definite flowering interval, which varies for every species, and sometimes stimulated by bushfire. Fires will burn the leaves and blacken the trunk, however the tree survives because the useless leaves across the stem function insulation towards the warmth of a wildfire.[citation needed]

The speed of development of Xanthorrhoea could be very gradual. Nonetheless, that is usually generalised to imply all of them develop on the charge of about an inch (2½ cm) per 12 months. Truly, after the preliminary institution part, the speed of development varies broadly from species to species. Thus, whereas a five-metre-tall member of the fastest-growing Xanthorrhoea could also be 200 years previous, a member of a extra slowly rising species of equal top could have aged to 600 years.[5][4]


Xanthorrhoea is allied to the household Asphodelaceae as monotypic subfamily Xanthorrhoeoideae.[1] The Xanthorrhoeoideae are monocots, a part of order Asparagales.[6]

A reference to its yellow resin,[2]Xanthorrhoea actually means “yellow move” in Historic Greek. Smith named it in 1798,[7] from xanthos (‘yellow, golden’) and rhœa (‘flowing, move’).[2]
The invalid Acoroides (‘Acorus-like’[8]) was a brief designation in Solander’s manuscript from his voyage with Cook dinner, initially not meant for publication.[7]

Frequent names for Xanthorrhoea embody grasstree, grass gum-tree (for its resin-yielding species),[2]kangaroo tail and blackboy, a colonialist title primarily based on the purported similarity in look of the trunked species to an Aboriginal man holding an upright spear.

Within the South West, the Noongar title balga’ is used for X. preissii. In South Australia, Xanthorrhoea is usually generally known as yakka, additionally spelled yacca and yacka, a reputation most likely from a South Australian Aboriginal language,[9] principally possible Kaurna.

The title grasstree is utilized to many different crops.

Kingia and Dasypogon are unrelated Australian crops with an analogous development behavior to Xanthorrhoea. Each genera have at occasions been confused with xanthorrhoeas and misnamed as “grasstrees”.[citation needed] Some plant classification programs corresponding to Cronquist[10] have included a variety of different genera in the identical household as Xanthorrhoea. Nonetheless, later anatomical and phylogenetic analysis has supported the view of Dahlgren[11] who regarded Xanthorrhoea as the only member of his household Xanthorrhoeaceae sensu stricto, which is now handled because the subfamily Xanthorrhoeoideae.[12]

Range and distribution[edit]

A genus endemic to Australia, occurring in all nationwide states and territories. Some species have a restricted vary, others are broadly distributed.
In line with the World Guidelines of Chosen Plant Households, as of September 2014 the next species are accepted:[1]


Grasstrees develop in coastal heaths, and moist and dry forests of Australia. They’re drought and frost tolerant. The grass tree primarily happens in soils which can be very free draining and consequently low in vitamins. It survives within the poorest soils, with a shallow root system, enabling it simply entry vitamins from decaying litter, whereas storing all of the meals reserves in its stem.[13]


The grass tree has developed diversifications that assist it higher swimsuit the setting the place it happens. If a hearth breaks out, the grass tree has a particular physiological adaptation known as thermal insulation that helps defend the plant. The grass tree holds its thick, useless leaves round its stem which serves as insulation, and helps to guard the plant towards the warmth of the fireplace.[14]

They want hearth to clear away useless leaves and promote flowering, as these slow-growing timber had been among the many first flowering crops to evolve.[15]
Grass timber have developed a structural adaptation which helps the grass tree reap the benefits of soil fertilized with ash after hearth, producing a flowering stalk within the aftermath.[citation needed]

The grass tree has a symbiosis relationship with Mycorrhiza deep in its root system. Mycorrhiza is fungi that dwell in a mutually useful relationship with the grass tree roots. The fungus will increase the tree root’s entry to water and vitamins and due to this fact will increase tree development particularly in poor situations.[16] The grass tree additionally suffers from a situation generally known as phytophthera dieback. Phytophthora cinnamomi is a discrete soil borne pathogen that assaults and destroys vascular root programs, inflicting hosts to perish via lack of vitamins and water. It’s unfold via contaminated crops and the motion of contaminated soil and gravel.[17]


Xanthorrhoea could also be cultivated, as seed is well collected and germinated. Whereas they do develop slowly, fairly engaging crops with quick trunks (10 cm) and leaf crowns as much as 1.5 m (to the highest of the leaves) could be achieved in 10 years. The gradual development charge signifies that it may well take 30 years to attain a specimen with a big trunk. Most Xanthorrhoea offered in nurseries are established crops taken from bushland. Nurseries cost excessive costs for the crops. Nonetheless, there’s a very low survival charge for nursery-purchased crops (primarily resulting from over watering), which can take a number of years to die. Essentially the most profitable examples of transplanting have been the place a considerable quantity of soil, larger than one cubic metre, has been taken with the crops.[citation needed]

The genus Xanthorrhoea, extra generally generally known as the grass tree, is an iconic plant that epitomizes the Australian bush in its means to dwell in poor nutrient soils and reply to wildfire.[18]

Generally grown species for the backyard embody Xanthorrhoea australis, X. malacophylla and X. preissii.[4]

Xanthorrhoea is vital to the Aboriginal peoples. It’s a extremely valued useful resource with many makes use of.[19] The flowering spike could also be utilised because the light-weight deal with of a composite spear with a hardwood sharp shaft inserted into the top.[20] It is usually soaked in water and the nectar from the flowers offers a sweet-tasting drink.
Within the bush the flowers might reveal instructions, since flowers on the hotter, sunnier facet – normally north – of the spike usually open earlier than the flowers on the cooler facet dealing with away from the solar.[21]

The resin from Xanthorrhoea crops is utilized in spear-making[22] and is a useful adhesive for Aboriginal individuals, usually used to patch up leaky coolamons (water containers) and even yidaki (didgeridoos). The dried flower stalk scape was additionally used to generate hearth by the hand drill friction methodology.

Resin collected from the plant was utilized in Australia till the mid-twentieth century for the next functions:[23]

  • Burnt as an incense in church buildings.
  • A base part for a varnish used on furnishings and in dwellings.
  • A polish and a coating used on steel surfaces together with stoves, tin cans used for storing meat and “brass devices.”
  • A part utilized in industrial processes related to “sizing paper, in cleaning soap making, perfumery and in manufacturing early gramophone data.”



  1. ^ a b c Xanthorrhoea“. World Guidelines of Chosen Plant Households (WCSP). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. ^ a b c d “xanthorrhoea”. Oxford English Dictionary (third ed.). Oxford College Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.) “Bot. (With capital preliminary.)”
  3. ^ Xanthorrhoea gracilis Endl., in J.G.C.Lehmann, Pl. Preiss 2: 39 (1846)“. Flora of Australia On-line. Division of the Setting and Heritage, Australian Authorities.
  4. ^ a b c d Ross, Graham (26 June 1998). Botanica. Milsons Level, N.S.W.: Random Home. p. 938. ISBN 9780091837846.CS1 maint: date and 12 months (hyperlink)
  5. ^ “Grass timber”. Bush Heritage Australia. Retrieved Four June 2017.
  6. ^ Bedford, David J. (1986). “9. Xanthorrhoea”. In George, A. S. (ed.). Flora of Australia: Iridaceae to Dioscoreaceae. Flora of Australia. 46. Canberra: Australian Govt. Pub. Service. pp. 148–169. ISBN 978-0-644-04356-4. OCLC 715706708.CS1 maint: date and 12 months (hyperlink)(PDF)
  7. ^ a b Nelson, E. Charles; Bedford, D.J. (June 1993) [1993]. “The names of the Australian grass-tree: Xanthorrhoea Sm. and Acoroides C. Kite (Xanthorrhoeaceae)”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 112 (2): 95–105. doi:10.1006/bojl.1993.1044. OCLC 664816018. S2CID 91163322.CS1 maint: date and 12 months (hyperlink)ResearchGate Publication 229812945
  8. ^ Gledhill, D. (2008) [First published 1985]. The Names of Crops (4th ed.). Cambridge U. Press. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-521-86645-3.CS1 maint: date and 12 months (hyperlink)
  9. ^ Peters, Pam, The Cambridge Australian English Type Information, Cambridge College Press, 1996, p823. ISBN 978-0-521-57634-5
  10. ^ Cronquist, A.J. An Built-in System of Classification of Flowering Crops, Columbia College Press, New York 1981. ISBN 0231038801
  11. ^ Dahlgren, R. M. T. (1980). “A revised system of classification of the angiosperms”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. Oxford College Press (OUP). 80 (2): 91–124. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.1980.tb01661.x. eISSN 1095-8339. ISSN 0024-4074. OCLC 974317225.
  12. ^ Chase, Mark W.; Reveal, James L.; Fay, Michael F. (eight October 2009) [2009]. “A subfamilial classification for the expanded asparagalean households Amaryllidaceae, Asparagaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae”. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 161 (2): 132–136. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00999.x. ISSN 0024-4074. OCLC 460811673. S2CID 83752262.CS1 maint: date and 12 months (hyperlink)ResearchGate Publication 229700277
  13. ^ Flora of Tasmania. Xanthorrhoea Australis [PDF]. Retrieved from
  14. ^ Petruzzello, M. (2017) Taking part in with Wildfire: 5 Superb Variations of Pyrophytic Crops. Retrieved from
  15. ^ Ward, D. (2004). Grasstrees present hearth historical past. Australian Geographic, (75),28,
  16. ^ Lester, T. Tree-Mycorrhiza. Retrieved from
  17. ^ Parks Victoria. (2016). Cinnamon Fungus. Retrieved from
  18. ^ Campbell, Colin (25 February 2006). “Grass Tree”. Gardening Australia. Australian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  19. ^ Hopper, S.; Lambers, H. (2014), “9. Human relationships with and use of Kwongan crops and lands”, Flora on the sandplains in southwest Australia : a worldwide biodiversity hotspot : kwongan issues, Crawley, Western Australia UWA Publishing, pp. 287–90, ISBN 978-1-74258-564-2
  20. ^ Arduous Yakka! Grass Tree Resin (Xanthorrhoea)
  21. ^ “Gardening Australia – Reality Sheet: Xanthorrea”. Archived from the unique on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 23 December 2006.
  22. ^ “Quantum – Historic Resin”. Archived from the unique on 22 December 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2006.
  23. ^ Watson, Phil (2004), The Grass Tree: Its Makes use of and Abuses, Affiliation of Societies for Rising Australian Crops, retrieved 20 April 2016

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