Native to Australia, thisperennial grass in the genus Cymbopogon, species Cymbopogon obtectus, is commonly known as Silkyheads. It is found across mainland Australia, also occurring in the drier and arid regions.

This distinctive looking grass species is a showy grass with white seed heads that point in various directions.

Silkyheads (Cymbopogon obtectus)
Silkyheads (Cymbopogon obtectus), Alice Springs, NT

The leaf blades are narrow, usually flat, tapering to a long fine point.

The Cymbopogon include the commonly known lemongrass, barbed wire grass, silky heads, citronella grass of the grass family.

Sometimes cultivated as an ornament plant, it is also used as a native ‘lemon grass’. The plant has been grown and used to produce essential oil with medicinal properties.

Common name
Silkyheads, Silky-heads, Silky-head Lemon-grass, Woolly-Headed Grass.

Cymbopogon is from the Greek kumbe (boat) and pogon (beard), that alludes to the boat-shaped spatheoles subtending the hairy racemes.

obtectus is from the Latin obtego (conceal).

Spatheole is a small spathe enclosing part of an inflorescence; typical in some Poaceae, surrounding a single raceme or a pair of racemes.

Racemes is a flower cluster, with each of the individual flowers attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem.

Silkyheads (Cymbopogon obtectus)
Silkyheads (Cymbopogon obtectus)

  • Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Monocots
  • Clade: Commelinids
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Subfamily: Panicoideae
  • Genus: Cymbopogon
  • Species: C. obtectus
  • Binomial name: Cymbopogon obtectus

Footnote & References

  1. Cymbopogon obtectus, Atlas of Living Australia,
  2. Cymbopogon obtectus, AusGrass,
  3. Cymbopogon obtectus, VICFLORA, Flora of Victoria,
  4. Cymbopogon obtectus, New Sourth Wales Flora Online,
  5. Cymbopogon obtectus, eFloraSA,