Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Australian Botanic Garden

Xanthorrhoea johnsonii

The Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan - June

Common name grass tree
Scientific name Xanthorrhoea johnsonii A.T. Lee
Family  Xanthorrhoeaceae

Genus: From the Greek, xanthos, yellow; and rheo, to flow. Alluding to the resin that flows from the stem.

Species: After Lawrence A.S. Johnson, 20th century botanist and Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney from 1972 t0 1985.

Distribution Widespread in eastern Queensland and north-eastern New South Wales.
Native habitat Occurs in well-drained soils in open forest and heath.

Dwarf to tall, tree-like perennial.

Flowering/fruiting Flowers April to December.

Location in Garden

In Bed 279 at Lakeside and in Bed 29 in the Connections Garden.


Australian natives can be used in many ways - but some of our more architectural species like the grass trees and Gymea liliy excel when placed in a contemporary garden setting.

In the 'Room with a View' installation we have used grass trees in raised rammed earth beds. The unusual setting lifts the plants from ground level to eye level, adds the contrast of terracotta walls against the sky and increases the plant’s impact - making a dramatic horticultural statement. The starburst shape of the grass tree’s leaves add a softness to the overall picture.

Grass trees prefer well-drained soil and a full sun position. If your soil is not suitable, then raised beds filled with a free-draining soil mix will remedy the situation. In cooler areas, hard surfaces such as paving and brick walls can create sun-traps which will help the plant perform well.




Xanthorrhoea johnsonii

Doryanthes excelsa contrasting with Leptospermum 'Copperglow'