Anyone who has visited Deep Creek Conservation Park would know
that it is synonymous with the Southern Grass Tree (Xanthorrehoea Australis)
The District Council of Yankalilla has used it as its logo for many years.
But did you know that these grass trees are slow growing and long lived with
some estimated to be 450 years old.
In fact, the rough trunk only develops after many
years of growth. Its typical black appearance is the result of exposure to bushfires over decades.
The reason the tree usually survives a fire is that its living growth-point
is buried underground, protected by a tightly packed leaf base.
Growth rates, although hard to quantify, have been estimated at between 1-3 cm per year.
Flowering takes several years and does not happen annually.
However, after bushfires up to 80% of grass trees will flower producing
a single spear-like cream coloured stem that can reach up to 3m in height.
The Southern grasstree was an important plant for Aborigines, both as a source
of food and drink as well as for fibre and materials for tool and weapon construction.
The flowering stem, when soaked in water, produces a sweet drink
while it also releases a resin that was used as a glue when making tools.
Stems could also be used as part of a spear or as a base for fire making
implements and the tough seed pods were used as cutting implements.
European settlers used the resin to produce a lacquer for furniture.
Grass trees are also known as ‘yacca’, which is likely derived from
a South Australian Aboriginal language, mostly likely Kaurna.
Today you can marvel at the majesty of these great survivors
from the comfort of your patio at the Ridgetop Retreats.