San Marcos Growers LogoSan Marcos Growers
New User
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
Nursery Closure
Search Utilities
Plant Database
Search Plant Name
Detail Search Avanced Search Go Button
Search by size, origins,
details, cultural needs
Website Search Search Website GO button
Search for any word
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings


  for MAY

Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
 Weather Station

Products > Xanthorrhoea johnsonii
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii - Forest Grass-tree
Working on getting this plant out in the field but it is not yet available listing for information only! 

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Origin: Australia (Australasia)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii (Forest Grass-tree) - Slow growing upright growing plant usually under 6 feet tall but older specimens getting taller with a thick woody trunk and grass-like foliage. It is usually unbranched with a crown of 1- to 2-foot long narrow green leaves that reflex downwards with age. Small white flowers on 6-12-foot-tall stalks are produced irregularly and years can go by without mature plants flowering, but when it occurs it is generally in mid fall to winter.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Tolerates only occasional to infrequent irrigation or more regular water where soil drains well. Fairly frost and drought tolerant once established. A good grass-tree for a narrow space as it does not get as wide as some others and its green leaves also make it quite distinct and, as with other Grass-trees, it provides a very dramatic feature in the landscape with leaves that dance in the wind.

This variable species is one of the most common of the Grass-trees and is widespread along the coast, tablelands and forests in Queensland and New South Wales where it is often found in well drained sandy and loam soils in open forests and heath. Xanthorrhoea is a genus with about 30 species endemic to Australia that was once included in the large lily family, the Liliaceace, but taxonomists later placed it in its own montypic family that also included such genera as Kingia, Dasypogon and Lomandra. The current nomenclature has it in its own subfamily, the Xanthorrhoeoideae, as part of the large Asphodel family, the Asphodelaceae, which includes such other familiar plants as Aloe, Bulbine, Dianella, Hemerocallis, Kniphofia and Phormium. Though often associated with succulents or trees, the Xanthorrhoea are actually long lived perennials with secondary thickening wood-like meristem forming in the stems.

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 20th century Australian botanist Lawrence A. S. Johnson, who was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. Other common names for Xanthorrhoea include grasstree, grass gum-tree (for the resin-yielding species), kangaroo tail. An early colonial name was "blackboy" but this name is now appropriately considered offensive and politically incorrect. This name was purportedly based on the look of the fire blackened trunks with foliage and tall inflorescence spike emerging at the top appearing as similar to that of an Aboriginal man holding an upright spear. We list this name here strictly for its historical significance and not to suggest it ever be used now as common name.

Our original plants of this species that we sold from 2002 until 2004 were mature plants that were rescued from the path of development in Queensland, but our current crops are from seed collected from selected specimens in their natural habitat in Australia by Atilla Kapitany, plant explorer, lecturer and author of Australian Grass Trees Xanthorrhoea and Kingia and Australian Succulent Plants. We also have young plants we have grown from seed provided to us by landscape designer Sarah Winarske, who collected the seed from the first plants we sold that were planted in a Sonoma area garden. 

This information about Xanthorrhoea johnsonii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.