The Glauca Grass Tree is a truly Australian plant. It is an attractive monocot, although it usually has only one stem, that grows a grass like top that has a fluffy appearance. Don’t be fooled that that “fluffy” appearance, however. The grass like spikes are sharp and can even cause injury. The Blue Grass tree is exceptionally hardy, and is one of the first plants to grow back or to continue growing after a fire. The grey grass trees, however, are not as fire hardy and can be killed by a hot blaze.
As the Grass Tree Grows
Grass trees are the most amazing plants. Like many of the types of vegetation native to Australia, it is uniquely adapted to this continent/island. The Glauca Grass tree is hardy to 20-degrees Fahrenheit, since it grows on the colder mountain slopes of Australia. In spring, it puts up a bloom stalk one which beautiful, white blooms develop. The blooms have a rich nectar that attracts insects, birds and animals from miles around. A sweet, slightly fermented drink for humans can be made from the blooms. The dried stalk is sufficiently hard to use as a fishing pole or
As the “fluffy” topknot grows, the lower fronds droop down forming a protective mass around the main stalk. The longer the mass when it is left natural, the greater the amount of time since the last burn-off. The frond bases create a stem that can be up to 20 feet in height.
Glauca grass trees are just as interesting below the soil as above it. The roots are adapted to extracting moisture and nutrients from difficult terrain, while they house symbiotic mycorrhiza that help the plant grow and enrich the soil.
Grass Trees and Bush Fires
Blue grass trees are among the many plants that have adapted to periodic burn offs. Not only does burning remove the dead leaf growth, the densely packed below ground growth protects the most vital part of the plant. In the spring, after a fire, an amazing number of blue grass plants will spring up to revitalize the landscape.
Managing Areas Prone to Bush Fires
Long before Europeans discovered and began to settle in Australia, the people who lived there managed the tinder-box landscape. Carefully applied burns to a limited area or to specific plants helps encourage this volatile landscape, while limiting the amount of fuel available to wildfires. Modern managers such as park rangers and members of Bush Heritage apply both traditional and modern information to helping keep wild areas under control.
Fire doesn’t recognize boundaries between parks, farms, settlements and cities. The last few years have seen increased or perhaps better publicized incidents of wildfires in regions such as Australia and Southern California in the US. Fires that burn out of control affect humans, wildlife, and air quality.
Protecting the Heritage
The big question really becomes the best way to protect everyone and everything, and that involves both good management and preserving seed stock and plants so that areas can be restored. In spite of extensive rhetoric while the fires rage, there are not likely to be any simple or easy answers. Meanwhile, it is good to know that there are people who are studying the difficulty and those who are dedicated to preserving as much as possible.
You and Glauca Grass Trees
If you want one of these beautiful monocots on your property, a few sensible rules will help keep your grass tree from adding to the general hazards.
- Keep the dead material trimmed, eliminating one potential for fire fuel.
- Dispose of the trimmings appropriately. That can vary by your location, but the preferred method for urbanites is to bag it, and transport it to a drop off site.
- Place grass trees and similar growth away from other vegetation. By giving your flammables some space, you cut down on their potential to ignite other things.
- Never harvest grass trees or other native plants from public lands. Always purchase them from licensed nurseries.
Enjoy the Grass Tree and Its Many Benefits
With a little care, you can enjoy this lovely plant that is native to Australia. It is one of the plants beneficial to Australian bees, and it will attract a variety of birds and other insects. It is truly beautiful in its own right and is very much a part of the heritage of Australia.