Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Grasstrees

Grasstrees are a strange looking sort of plant that is endemic to Australia - their twisted and often blackened "stems" are characteristic perennial plants of many parts of the country.

The blackened stem is not a true stem at all really, but a hollow structure formed the the base of the of the leaves.  Roots run down through the hollow centre to connect to the ground.

These plants often respond to fire by sending up large flower stalks, and after a fire they can become very visible in the bush.  Far from destroying the plant, fire is vital to its long tern survival.

This kind of relationship with fire is common in Australia.

The larger plants in these pictures are likely to be well over a hundred years old - you may not be surprised to learn that these older plants are sometimes stolen from the bush and sold on the black market!  Thankfully, there seems to be some regulation to prevent this.


These plants were widely used by Aboriginal Australians, with the flower spike being used as a fusing spear.  The flowers can also be soaked in water to produce a sweet drink.  During the early stages of European colonisation, sailors often saw these lanes on cliff and headlands - the dark shapes with tall 'spears' were sometimes mistake for people!






All of these pictures were taken in the Grampians - a National Park about a 3 1/2 hours from Melbourne.

You can find more pictures from around the world at Our World Tuesday.

32 comments:

Montanagirl said...

How very interesting - and unique! I learn something new everytime I visit your blog! Thanks for sharing this.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Oh wow, quite an interesting-looking tree indeed Stewart!

Florida Farm Girl said...

What an interesting plant! I'd love to see those Aussie plants one of thes years.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

I love these glimpses of your adopted home.

Cheers

bas van Es said...

ontzettend mooi maar ook fijn dat je er z,on mooie uitleg bij geeft.

HOOTIN ANNI said...

What an exceptional, very interesting post! I'm glad you shared this with us.

HOOTIN ANNI said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Very interesting -- twisted but beautiful shapes... really enjoyed this.

"We" over here are only recently starting to acknowledge that naturally-caused forest burns are not always bad. The Native Americans knew that, but that knowledge has been ignored for too long. Some areas are so terribly overgrown that when there is a fire it gets quickly out of control.

TexWisGirl said...

wow! very unique!

Fun60 said...

How interesting. Those black trunks and stems are in stark contrast to the new growth.

Linda W. said...

Cool! These look very familiar to beargrass, which blooms in early summer in the Cascade mountains.

Karen said...

Such cool looking plants! Excellent shots with great detail Stewart. Lorikeets like to eat the flowers don't they?

Lea said...

Very interesting!
Have a great day!
Lea

Mari said...

I've never heard of this plant. Very interesting!

Revrunner said...

Wonderful shapes and forms.

carol l mckenna said...

Unique and pretty trees ~ great shots and wonderfully informative post! ~

artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor) ~ Happy Week to you!

Sylvia K said...

Great post and wonderful captures, Stewart, as always!! Thanks for sharing this with us today!! Have a great week!

eileeninmd said...

Stewart, they are cool looking trees. Thanks for sharing. Have a happy week!

Bethany Carson said...

Very neat how fire helps the plants! Great shots of a very interesting subject!

Felicia said...

Wow those are interesting trees. thanks for sharing. the one image looks like a hand.

Kusum Sanu said...

Wow! Those are interesting looking plants! I love such articles with something I don't see in my part of the world!

John @ Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

What a most interesting plant. You guys sure have some neat stuff down there. Thanks for sharing that Stewart.

ladyfi said...

Great shots. Nature always finds a way to bounce back!

Dianne said...

A beautiful part of our Australian landscape Stewart. As children born and bred in rural South Australia my sisters and I would often cut the smaller flower spikes to use as make-believe kangaroo tails.

Irma said...

Beautiful pictures Stewart.
Rare plants are these, pictures 3 and 4 are my favorite.
Best regards, Irma

chai-and-chardonnay.blogspot.com said...

I have never seen those trees. How amazingly beautiful ...but what a shame that people just take them.

Lina Gustina said...

My first time to see this kind of plant. Awesome shots.
Thanks for stopping by.
www.1sthappyfamily.com

NatureFootstep said...

lol, I was some of them in Queensland, but they were not in bloom then. :) Nice to see them.


http://nftravel.blogspot.se/2014/10/140909-queensland-atherton-tablelands.html

Marie said...

They are fascinating plants! I am glad they are protected!

bailey-road.com said...

One of the most unusual and fascinating plants I've ever seen. Thanks for sharing.

Margaret Adamson said...

I love seeing your natural habitat.

Liz said...

How interesting!
It's always wonderful to see the forest and bushland's response to fire.