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Products > Xanthorrhoea preissii
 
Xanthorrhoea preissii - Western Australian Grass Tree
   

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Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Height: 8-12 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Xanthorrhoea preissii (Western Australian Grass Tree) - This plant is hard to classify - we put it with succulents as it seems to fit best with them in the gardens but it is really an evergreen woody perennial. It can reach nearly tree-like proportions and has 2 to 4 foot long blue-green stiff grass-like leaves radiating from the center of an upright, occasionally branching, woody trunk. It is slow growing but ultimately reaches to 9 feet tall with a diameter of 4-8 feet in its native habitat in south-western Australia. In cultivation it is rare to see plants more than 6 feet tall by a similar width. When plants mature (7-10+ years) they begin blooming it sends up a 6 to 10 foot tall erect stalk, called a scape, that holds a small white star shaped flowers in a spike over half the length of the scape. Flowering most often occurs in spring but it can be at other times as well and it is often several years between flowering. The flowers are very attractive to bees and the plant will hold the flower stalk, which turns dark brown, long after the plant finishes flowering. Plant in full sun to light shade in a well-drained soil where it can tolerate regular irrigation, occasional or even very dry conditions. Hardy to at least 20 F. It is very slow growing and long lived and makes for a dramatic plant in the landscape or even in a large pot. It is a fire adapted species in the wild that often has the leaves burnt off leaving a blackened trunk with only newly emerging leaves - in areas where fire is discouraged, the lower leaves can be removed every few years to expose the trunk - they are easier to snap off by hand near the base than to cut but one must wear sturdy gloves, as leaf edges are sharp. This plant is native to forest and woodland areas from around Geraldton on the west coast south to Albany in Western Australia. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'xanthos', meaning "yellow" and 'rheo' meaning "to flow" in reference to the resin of this plant that was collected from around the base of the stem by Aboriginal Australians who heated and rolled it into balls and used it for various purposes. The specific epithet honors the German botanist Johann August Ludwig Preiss (18111883) who collected more than 2,700 species of plants in Western Australia as well as many birds, reptiles, insects and molluscs. The common name in Australia is Balga or Blackboy in reference to the blackened trunk with the green hair-like growth above, but the politically correct name is Western Australian Grass Tree.  This description is based on research and observations of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in our nursery garden and in other gardens that we visit. We also incorporate comments received and appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have any additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or if they have additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Xanthorrhoea preissii.
 
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