Plant Xanthorrhoea (Grass Tree)

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Henry Arthur Readford
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Botanical Name: Xanthorrhoea

Common Name: Grass Tree, Blackboy, Yakka

Distribution: Grow in Sandy or stony infertile soils on ridges and ranges and in coastal and inland heaths

Field Notes: 28 species are known.consisting of a woody trunk topped by a crown of tough, wiry slender leaves. Pale yellow or cream flowers grow from tall wooy spikes. The trunk can be up to 6m tall or entirly underground. They grow very slow about 1cm a year.

Uses: yeilds edible starch,nectar,shoots, grubs, gum that serves as a glue and the spikes used for spears and fire sticks. The flowers can be soaked to make a swett drink or fermented to make a mild alchol.
NOTE: unless survival is required eating the plith from trunk is not to be done as it will kill the tree.
 
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Blake

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Awesome, thanks for adding to the database auscraft. Ill add this one to the index list
 

Corin

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Here is one of the biggest I have seen in the Shoalhaven...
 

Hairyman

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Some more mature flower/seed spikes
IMG_0608.jpg
IMG_0607.jpg
There are blobs of the usefull resin on the spike but I couldnt see any seeds
 

Corin

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Good link Auscraft. They are fascinating plants.
 

auscraft

Henry Arthur Readford
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Thanks Corin
Another Aboriginal use I did discover being mentioned was, ''The resin from the sap of a grass tree is quickly painted onto the shield and then ignited.
This acts as a wood-sealant and primer for later painting.''
 

Corin

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Any idea how to harvest the resin without killing them?
 

auscraft

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That is an interesting question,
Still looking into, it is/can be done actually from what I am reading the Aboriginals did not harm any plant life to gather food or materials it had to do with collection methods, Interesting, this also included taking bark from trees.
 

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Henry Arthur Readford
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The best answer I have found so far is resin was/is collected from the base of each leaf .

another intesting tid bit is the flowers were used to tell direction like a compass.
this is because the flower on the warmer sunnier side of spike ( usually north) would open before the cooler side (south)
 

Aussie123

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Some more mature flower/seed spikes
View attachment 1769
View attachment 1770
There are blobs of the usefull resin on the spike but I couldnt see any seeds
The seed pods open, like a bird's beak and the seed falls out. Looks like there may be a few unopened seed pods in your picture, I've circled what looks like an unopened seed pod:
Seed.JPG
 

Corin

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There are some places we go with giant Xanthorrhoea's , One of the things i do with the girls is try and estimate their age and relate that back to noteable points in history to give them a better appreciation.
The ones in the Watagans were very impressive from your last trip. I have never seen them that tall. Its a great idea relating them to points in history. I will be using that with the scouts.
 

AussiePreppers

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On a recent trip with Hairyman he gave me a little jem that I wasn't able to confirm with practical experience at the time, but over the last few days i've been on another adventure and came across a stand of grasstrees that were in the right stage of flowering to confirm that the flower can indicate north. Just as the flower spike reaches its full height and turns black at the top, and the little white flowers start to emerge, they emerge on the north side first. I found several different trees all in the early stage of flowering, all with the initial flowers appearing on the north side. It was a great piece of info, thanks Hairy!

Of course, it's a better story with pics...





It's easier to read north when it's earlier in flower, with fewer flowers on the spike. The plant on the left was easier to get a bearing from. The plant on the right had already reached full coverage in some spots so was a little more difficult (but not impossible).



We spent a little while trying to see if it was possible to tell any sort of difference with a complete flower but couldn't. I wonder as they start to seed and die off, if the north side dies first?
 
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