Glauca grass trees (Xanthorrhoea glauca) are not precisely trees. They are monocots. Monocots include all types of grass, including wheat, oats, and bamboo. A monocot is distinguished from other types of plants in that when it starts to sprout, it produces only one leaf from the seed. As it grows, it produces long, blade shaped leaves that have fibers that run in parallel to each other. Yucca plants, for example, are also monocots, as well as duckweed and cattails.
Glauca grass trees are somewhat different from other grass and grass like plants in that they develop a stem. The stem is formed of the grass “skirt” that develops as the plant grows. The leaves of the skirt are glued together by the resin the glauca grass trees produce, melding into a tough, sturdy stem that grows as the plant grows.
Tree sized monocots were largely unknown to European scientists until exploration of Australia revealed these plants. Australia has whole forests of these giant monocots. Walking among them is described as walking back in time since some of the glauca grass trees are at least 600 hundred years old!
Clearing for farmland, and other changes associated with industrial development has thinned the numbers of grass trees to the point that they are now a protected species. If you wish to have a grass tree, you should purchase it from a licensed nursery. We have the good fortune to have a grass tree forest on our land, and we are licensed to grow and sell these magnificent monocots.
One reason for restricting the harvesting and growing of glauca grass trees is that they have some specific growing requirements. Grass trees interact with a specific type of soil mycorrhiza that helps them to draw up nutrients. Without their underground helpers, grass trees tend to sicken and die. Too often unknowledgeable wild harvesting results in trees that are removed from their native soil and improperly seeded with the underground mycorrhiza that are so essential to grass trees.
Fortunately, encouraging the grown of the mycorrhiza is not difficult. Experienced Australian gardeners recommend first to be sure that you have incorporated soil from the growing area near healthy glauca grass trees. Then feed the mycorrhiza by watering the grass tree at its base with a mixture of brown sugar and water. This encourages the mycorrhiza to grow, which in turn supports the growth of the grass tree.
Licensed sellers will understand the needs of your grass tree and will be more than happy to provide instructions for planting and caring for your beautiful monocot.
Glauca grass trees are an extremely hearty variety of grass tree. They are susceptible to very few pests or diseases, and tolerate a wide range of temperatures. They will even tolerate moderate bush fires. Indeed, they are sometimes stimulated by fires that encourage the long skirt to fuse protectively around the stem. It is said that you can tell how recently an area has been burned off by the length of the skirt on the grass trees.
Grass trees produce a magnificent bloom stalk. Walking into a forest of blooming grass trees is like walking into a crowd waving candles in the air. The long stalk produces hundreds of white blossoms along its length. These are much loved by pollinating insects and animals of many varieties. The blossoms can be made into a drink.
From the blossoms, as one might expect, come seeds which can be planted to grow more grass trees, enabling knowledgeable, licensed growers to sustainably harvest young grass trees to sell. We are proud to be licensed by the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage, and to be able to offer gardeners and landscapers the opportunity to plant these beautiful and iconic Australian native grass trees.
Glauca grass trees (Xanthorrhoea glauca) are, as mentioned, extremely hearty. The term “glauca” refers to their distinctive and highly prized bluish coloring. They are a unique feature when added to any garden, but are especially useful as tall plants in gardens designed to conserve water. Because of their resilience, we are able to offer a twelve-month survival warranty with our glauca grass tree plants.
We invite you to browse our collection of glauca grass trees. We specialize in multi-headed plants, but have those that are a single stem, as well. We are also glad to provide directions for planting and care. In many ways, our glauca grass trees are our signature plant. We think there can be no finer plant to incorporate into your landscaping or backyard garden plan.
When you plant a glauca grass tree, you are planting for the future. They grow very slowly, but they can grow to an immense size. They grow naturally in protected areas, such as the rocky slopes of a canyons where they are protected from the wind. They do not mind moderately poor soil, as long as they have their signature microscopic life present, but they do prefer areas that are well drained.
Because of their slow growth, young glauca grass trees can be cultivated in containers. While they require little attention when grown out of doors, container plants will need to be watered. Good drainage is essential. Pots should be suspended above drip trays so that the roots are not setting in water. Always water glauca grass trees, whether growing indoors or out, by watering at the base. Water poured over the top of the tree can initiate rot in the crown.
When you plant a glauca grass tree, you are planting a national treasure. We are happy to share this uniquely Australian plant with you.