Forest Grass Tree (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii)



Starting out as a small clumping plant, the Forest Grasstree makes a stunning feature plant with its dark trunk, dense grassy head of leaves, and a woody flower spike that can grow 2-3 m high. That is if you are prepared to wait; the rate of growth is about 2-3 cm per year, so it takes decades for a plant to reach full maturity. They can live for up to 600 years.

Forest Grass Trees typically grow on poor, sandy soils in open woodland and heath, which makes them well suited to coastal gardens. Their honey scented flower spikes, born in spring and summer, attract birds, butterflies and bees.IMG_4423

Nurseries sell established plants but, like many Australian natives, Grass Trees don’t transplant well when mature. Once established, which can take up to a year, they are extremely hardy, requiring very little maintenance and watering. The dead foliage can be trimmed back (in nature fire does this) to encourage new growth and prevent fungal infection.


Xanthorrhoea johnsonii, Melaleuca quinqernervia

Forest Grass Trees don’t shed leaves making them a good poolside plant


Grass Tree (l) in a beautiful native poolside planting

  This article is part of our Gardening with natives series.

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