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Grass trees

Grass trees


Article under construction.

Australian grass trees include the genus Kingia and Xanthorrhoea.  These iconic grass trees are endemic to Australia, and are not succulent plants at all. They are very popular in landscape design, especially when planted with cacti and succulents. (Interestingly in Europe, grass trees are sold as Australian succulent plants!) These plants are xerophytes so able to survive and grow in similar conditions to cacti and succulents and so it is understandable that there is confusion in the general public.

Unfortunately, grass trees also have a bad reputation for being difficult to grow, rarely flowering, then usually dying after several years in the garden. Therefore we would like to showcase a great example of the opposite, of how well they can look grow and flower in a garden.

Ian Menkins, an ameteur botanist from Queensland has been growing numerous grass tree species in amongst cacti and other succulents, successfully within a garden setting for over 20 years.The image below is only  part of his garden, however it does clearly show three very different Xanthorrhoea species, all flowering annually. (The larger specimen in the foreground only has the thick inflorescence stems showing).




Ian frequently travels to visit and observe various species in their natural habitat, often consulting with senior botanists about their identification which at times have been confusing. Like many of us who sometimes struggle with the identification of grass trees, especially when encountered in habitat, Ian has been extra studious, at times with a lot of frustration, has decided to create his own ' Simlified Key' to the genus Xanthorrhoea. While this key was only ever intended for his private use, he has given us permission to share it with  those who are interested. It has proved useful to us! Why not try it yourself!

Simplified Key to the Grasstrees of Australia, by State or Teritory. Compiled by Ian Menkins, 2017.Adapted mostly from Flora of Australia


Apart from Ian Menkins' garden, work and key to grass trees, we are now seeking more pics, stories and garden settings of grass trees in cultivation. We want to publish and show others how wonderful and worthwhile these plants are. Have you got a garden pic or story you would like to share?

We are also proud to be able to offer a special small publication devoted just to this topic:

click here Australian Grass Trees


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