Grass Trees (Xanthorrea spp) > Desert Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea thorntonii)

The Grass Trees (Xanthorrea spp.) are an iconic emblem of our Australian bush. Grass Trees are endemic to Australia and can be found growing naturally in all states and territories, found in heaths, dry forests and on mountain ranges. There are over 30 species.

‘Xanthorrhoea’ means ‘yellow flow’ in ancient Greek and refers to its resin. The resin was much prized by Aboriginal people, being used as a glue or as a coating / waterproofing material. The early settlers also found it extremely useful, as a glue, a varnish, polish and a coating of tin materials. It was used in the sizing of paper, in soap and perfumery and even in the manufacture of early gramophone records.

Grass trees on Mount Yulludunida
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii (Grass Tree) on Mount Yulludinida Track,NSW

Flower spikes which can grow to 2-3 metres are magnificent; the multiple small flowers, full of nectar, are mobbed by insects and birds.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Monocots
  • Order: Asparagales
  • Family: Asphodelaceae
  • Subfamily: Xanthorrhoeoideae
  • Genus: Xanthorrhoea