Grass trees provide a feast for all.

Grass trees are flowering now and proving very attractive to insects.

The flower spike of grass trees is made up of hundreds, if not thousands, individual flowers. Each flower holds nectar and pollen meaning dozens of insects can get a feed at any one time.

We have two species of grass tree in our bushland - Xanthorrhoea preissii and X. brunonis. Xanthorrhoea preissii is the classic grass tree that everyone thinks of. It can have a tall trunk and huge flower spike. Xanthorrhoea brunonis very rarely grows a trunk but can have many heads crowded together. Its flower spikes are usually much smaller than X. preissii.

All Xanthorrhoea grow in the same way. They have a single growth point from which the leaves grow. When conditions are right, the growth point produces a flower. The flower spike spells the end for that growth point. For the grass tree to continue to grow it produces a number of new growth points from the base of the flower spike.

If one of these new growth points survives the grass tree continues to grow with one head. If two growth points survive, the grass tree develops two heads. Some old grass trees can have many heads, each of which developed from the base of a flower spike.

While flowers bring the potential of continuing the species through seeds, it brings great risk to the originating plant. Flowering takes a lot of energy from the plant. And if the plant fails to develop a new growth point it will die. For these reasons grass trees don’t flower every year.

Get out into the bushland and enjoy the flowers, plus the insects they attract, when they are produced.

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Activities

The next FQPB activity will be held on Monday 12 December from 7.30pm. Meet opposite 261 Station Street, East Cannington (between Welshpool Rd and Luyer Ave).

  • We’ll be conducting a night stalk. Torches will be available or bring your own.
  • Tea and coffee will be available.
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