There are many
beautiful yacca specimens on the peninsula… take a walk through Newland Head Conservation
Park to see forests of them! Their trunks are made of accumulated leaf bases, not wood,
so they are more of a grass than a tree, hence the common name. The yaccas around Cape Jervis have trunks
up to 4 metres tall, and flower spikes up to another 2.5 metres on top. Phenomenally
slow growth rates mean it takes a long time for a trunk to get to this size
though. Aboriginal peoples use this
plant for tools, drinks and navigation: the flowering
spike makes spears for fishing; the nectar from the flowers is a sweet drink;
the side the flowers opens first indicates north (sunnier side). The resin can
be used as a glue/adhesive; in fact, the botanical name Xanthorrhoea is from the Greek xanthos, meaning yellow, and rheo, meaning to flow; referring to the
resin. Many birds and insects are attracted to the flowers and they look great.
Might take a few decades before the ones we have planted flower!
This is a very little weed, just shin high …little in
size, but not in its ability to spread, though. It is widely naturalized over
large parts of SA, and consequently is regarded as an environmental weed here.
About 10cm underground you will find lots of little bulbs, with fibrous
coating. Above ground, you will see one leaf only per bulb, a long, narrow one
like that in the photos above, which arches over the ground. The spring flowers
are supported on a short, pale green stem. These flowers are actually quite
pretty. The 6 pointy petals are presented as two layers of three, one layer
sitting off-centre to the other. Pale purple with a darker central blotch and
yellow markings, they do resemble a miniature iris. Originally from South
Africa, the plant has made itself at home here. Kangaroos will eat the leaf
(which remains after the flower dies off) and wombats will dig up and feed off
the bulbs, especially in years of drought when not much other food is around.