Xanthorrhoea preissiiCommon name: Grass Tree

Meaning of name: Xanthorrhoea is from the Greek words xanthos, meaning yellow, and rheo, meaning to flow. It refers to the gum which flows from the stem. Preissii honours Johann August Ludwig Preiss (1811 – 1883) who collected more than 2,700 species in Western Australia.

Aboriginal name: Balga.

Aboriginal use: The gum and leaves were used to treat intestinal complaints. The gum from the flowering spike of Xanthorrhoea preissii was made into cakes. Bunches of dried leaves were made into torches or thatched for roofing material. The resin that oozes from the trunk was used as an adhesive, to help start fires and as an agent for tanning animal hides.

Distribution: Occurs throughout the south-west of Western Australia.

Remarks: A tufted perennial with a trunk up to 3 metres tall. The flowers can be produced during much of the year. This species can be differentiated from Xanthorrhoeae brunonis by its trunk, which Xanthorrhoeae brunonis doesn’t have, and its flower. The flowering part of the stem is always much longer than the non-flowering part in Xanthorrhoea preissii.

References: Western Australian Plant Names and their Meanings, a Glossary. FA Sharr. 1996.

Flora of the Perth Region. NG Marchant, JR Wheeler, BL Rye, EM Bennett, NS Lander, TD Macfarlane. 1987.

Bush Tucker Plants of the South-West. B Daw, T Walley, G Keighery. 1997.

Noongar Bush Medicine, Medicinal Plants of the South-west of Western Australia. Vivienne Hansen & John Horsfall. 2016