Grass Tree

Family: Xanthorrhoeaceae
Genus: Xanthorrhoea
Species: thorntonii
Main Flower Colour: White


The form of the plant resembles a tree, with very long and bunched, grass-like, leaves that emerge from a central base. The trunk may grow over 3 metres tall, the often blackened appearance is evidence of its ability to withstand fire. The remains of the flammable leaves and the annual regrowth produce banding, allowing the age of the plant to be determined, and giving a record of previous fires in its habitat. The inflorescence appears on an upright spike, 1.5m to 2.5m long, between June and December. The sessile flowers, creamy or white, appear more profusely when stimulated by bushfire. It is found throughout coastal plains, near watercourses, and inland forest regions, in a range extending from Geraldton to Albany and in the Avon Wheatbelt. It occurs on a wide variety of soil types and is sometimes associated with laterite and granite.

Flowering start in September and ends in December.


The main flower colour is white. The appearance of the plant was seen as resembling a native inhabitant, holding a spear, by the early settlers of the region in Western Australia it is commonly referred to as a blackboy.


The species had a high economic importance to the Noongar people, who named it Balga, using the gum it contains, the spike for fish spears, and the Bardi grub as a source of food.


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Bio Regions

Gascoyne (GAS)

Region Specifics

A stand of Xanthorrhoea preissii near Well 6 on the Canning Stock Route is the most northern known location of this species in Australia.

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