Plantidote of the Day 2012-07-02
Grass tree, kangaroo tail
Look closely and you'll see that these are not cattails, which is what I thought they were at first. These Australian natives are very happy here in Zone 10, but they should also do well in 9 and 11, too. Grass trees are easy to grow and extremely drought tolerant, but they do not like to be moved.
Some other interesting facts about grass trees. One, they are coveted by collectors, even though they grow so slowly that it takes as long as 30 years for the spikes to appear. Two, seed germination requires smoke from brush fires (not sure this is true). Three, there are dozens of varieties, but only a handful are grown in the U.S. Here's one of the more interesting ones -- 'Blackboy' (Xanthorrhoea preissi) named for its dark stem.
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