Grass Trees in the News

Grass Trees or “Balga” in the News.

Another word for Grass tree is “Balga” in the Noongar language according to an article dated September 7, 2021, in the Metronet News. The trees are a subject of interest thanks to the Yanchep Rail Extension, which is part of the Metronet system. The Yanchep center will be part of the Yanchep City Center created by the Yanchep Beach Joint Venture and will connect Yanchep with Butler. It is expected to provide transportation for development and added jobs in the area.

Protecting Native Trees

No large construction project happens without some disruption of the landscape. But last year in 2021, the world is still reeling from the consequences of Covid-19 while facing some serious reality checks in the form of environmental changes that could possibly be attributed to global warming. The good news here is that Xanthorrhoea grass trees are being carefully removed from the prospective site and taken to a special nursery where they will be held until the project is complete.

At that time, the carefully nurtured grass trees, or Balgas as they are called in Noongar, will be returned as part of the subsequent landscaping along the transportation project.

Protecting Native Animals

Railroads and roadways can be deadly to animals anywhere. With this in mind, the Yanchep Rail Extension will include a fauna underpass at Alkimos Parks and Recreation Reserve, and three green bridges at Ninguna Bushland. Fencing will help guide animals through these safe areas and away from the dangerous road and railways, where they could be struck by moving vehicles.

More than that, the bridges themselves will provide an added area for native plants that will be carefully selected to provide food and shelter to native species.

Another Native Tree in the News: Wollemi Pine

The Wollemi pine has been described as a “living fossil.” They are not actually pines, nor are they truly a tree. Instead, they are coniferous trees of the family Araucariaceae.  They were most numerous during the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods and were then found in all parts of the world. They largely disappeared from the northern hemisphere during the Cretaceous-Paleogene event, believed to have been caused by a meteor strike about 66 million years ago. Although there is some evidence to support the theory, it is difficult to know what truly happened that long ago.

There are fewer than 100 Wollemi pine trees in the wild, their location kept secret to help preserve them. In January of 2021, fire crews heroically created an irrigation system to prevent their location from being burned over. You can purchase a potted Wollemi pine – they seem to respond well to cultivation.

Individual potted plants are expensive, as is shipping and handling of these unique trees As with all rare plants, be certain that you are dealing with a licensed, certified nursery. Bootlegging plants can speed extinction for plants such as these.

If you are a teacher or a school, you can obtain a Wollemi Tree Kit for your school. ( Each kit includes one Wollemi pine tree, instructional activities, care instructions, and a certificate of authenticity.

These trees are remarkably resilient and are perfect for planting on Australia’s National Tree Day, on August 2; or on Schools Tree day on July 31.

A Few More Notes About Grass Trees

A blog post from Kerri-Lee Harris, author of the website “Life in a Southern Forest” posted an assessment of post-fire health of a favourite patch of grass trees. ( Harris’s article contains two takeaway pieces of information.

  • There are several varieties of xanthorrhoea grass trees. The glauca gray grass trees at Designer Trees home farm has trunks, and are of the type that are stimulated to bloom and seed by fire.
  • Harris believes that their grass trees might be X. resinosa or X. concava, neither of which have above-ground trunks and both of which respond well to the nutrients and clearing that results from forest fire burn-off.

They were excited to discover new growth, including bloom spikes,  after the previous year’s devastation. They also found moths that had probably survived by being eggs or caterpillars hibernating belowground.

The fascination with the World of Trees, Plants, and the Animals that live among them

Overall, it would seem that the more you know about trees, plants, and the animals that live among them, there is always more to learn. From the oldest plants such as xanthorrhoea and Wollemi pines to the newest hybrids, such as Tahitian limes, plants have surprises for growers, scientists, school children, and the people who simply live among them and enjoy them. Joyce Kilmer who wrote, “I think I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree,” was one of many who understand the importance of these largest of plants.


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