Xanthorrhoea living it up

xanthorrhoea flowering at Curtin University

I started this blog with a post about transplanting Xanthorrhoea (grass trees) in Perth gardens. A few people have commented on what amazing landscaping we have in Perth. I agree that the plants growing in Australia are pretty amazing – it’s a good place to live.

xanthorrhoea sprouting new growth after winter rains

But I based that post on a mistake. I said the Xanthorrhoea didn’t survive being transplanted, but they really are hardy and the winter rain must have revived it. This spring it’s sprouting new green growth (see above photo). A Xanthorrhoea in a different garden that was turning brown and looking sickly is now flowering; the first time I’ve seen this in a transplanted Xanthorrhoea.

xanthorrhoea flower stalk

When Xanthorrhoea flower, they grow a green flower stalk from their crown. Numerous small white flowers cover this and when the flowers die, the stalk turns orange.

this flower stalk was broken off and the white flowers are starting to wilt

Since September I’ve seen flower stalks on original Xanthorrhoea in nearby gardens; these plants are hundreds of years old and were not cleared when houses were built. I’ve also seen flower stalks on transplanted Xanthorrhoea in road verge landscaping and at Curtin University. And the Xanthorrhoea at Star Swamp that were burnt at the end of last summer are flowering in profusion. Setting fire to a Xanthorrhoea is a sure way to make it flower the following spring, but you shouldn’t try this at home because they’re highly flammable. My dad told me about a person who set fire to a Xanthorrhoea in his garden, his house caught fire and burnt down.

original vegetation xanthorrhoea flowering in a local garden

Grasstrees Australia, in outer suburban Perth, sell grass trees (Xanthorrhoea preissii), Kingia australis, zamia (Macrozamia fraseri) and Western Australian Christmas trees (Nuytsia floribunda) that have been rescued from cleared land. The plant below was transplanted to a garden in my neighbourhood and is now flowering.

xanthorrhoea flowering after being transplanted in a local garden


2 thoughts on “Xanthorrhoea living it up

  1. so does one leave the flower spike on till it falls off, or does one cut it? If so, when? Aren’t they magnificent! Thanks. Wendy

  2. Hi Wendy,
    In the bush the flower stalks get blown over during the autumn/winter winds, but if you don’t want to wait for this, just cut it off. They make great fire lighters (they burn very quickly, so be ready for this and only use one smallish piece at a time). If you wait until the seed pods open, you can collect some seed and plant them. See the three flower stalks to the left in this picture (larger version) for the dark brown seed pods, which have three segments sticking out.
    Cheers, Clare.

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