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Xanthorrhoea australis - R.Br.

Common Name Grasstree
Family Xanthorrhoeaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Poor sandy or heathy soils up to the montane zone[154].
Range Australia - New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Moist Soil Full sun
Xanthorrhoea australis Grasstree

Xanthorrhoea australis Grasstree


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Xanthorrhoea australis is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.



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Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Nectar;  Root;  Stem.
Edible Uses:

The pith of the stem is eaten raw or roasted, it has an agreeable nutty taste that is slightly balsamic[193]. It contains about 41% carbohydrate, 3.5% protein and traces of vitamin C[193]. It is possible to extract sugar from the stem[193]. Leaf bases - chewed[144]. They are hard to detach from the plant[144]. They sometimes taste sweet and juicy though more often they are tough and astringent[193]. The flowers produce an abundance of nectar and this can be collected from the flowers, either by sucking the flowers or by cooking them up to produce a syrup[144]. The root might be edible[144].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The resin has medicinal uses[171]. No details are given.

Other Uses

Adhesive;  Friction sticks;  Incense;  Miscellany;  Resin;  Size;  Varnish.

A resin collects around the bases of old leaves and can be collected by beating the stems[171]. It can be used as a varnish for wood or metal[154, 156, 171] and as an incense[156]. It can also be used as a size, a sealing wax, mahogany stain for wood and medicinally[171]. It makes a good glue[193]. The gum is soft and pliable when heated over a flame but it cools to a rock-hard consistency[193]. The flower stems are good firesticks[193].

Cultivation details

Requires a well-drained light or medium soil and a very sunny position[200]. Succeeds in poor soils in the wild[154]. This species is not very frost-hardy in this country and normally requires greenhouse protection[1]. It tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°c in Australian gardens[K], though this cannot be translated directly to British gardens due to our cooler summers and longer colder and wetter winters. It would certainly be worthwhile trying it outdoors in the mildest areas of the country[K]. Other members of this genus should also have the same edible and non-edible uses[144, 193].


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Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in about 5 weeks[157]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer, giving them the protection of a frame or cloche until they are growing away happily. Protect the outdoor plants for at least their first winter. Division of offsets in late spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Dr David Bedford   Wed Jul 8 2009

While this is the most common name given to grass-trees it is rarely correct. The species only grows in Tasmania (where Robert Brown found it at Grass Tree Hill, Risdon Cove) and in Victoria. All xanthorrhoeas have large quantities of phenolic compounds and flavonoids so great care should be taken about ingesting any part of the plant. Some species have been involved in stock poisoning and have killed cattle.

Mick Burkhill   Sat Jan 16 2010

Dear Sir,I have been growing one of these plants from seed for two years.It is in a pot and i have stoud it outside in the summer in the winter it stands in my living room on a window sill and it continues to grow there.My question is that the root is coming out of the bottom drain hole onto a sandy dish what would be the best time and advice for repotting this plant as i read they do not like being disturbered.Any info would be welcome,I sent for the seeds in Australia planted 25 they all germinated but only this one survived.I look forward to your reply thanks

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