Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra)
A dense, perennial tussock with narrow leaves, which can be green, purple or even blue in colour.
- It is 50cm x 50cm in size with large, nodding, spiky flower heads.
- Traditionally, Kangaroo grass was used by Aboriginal people for food and fibre.
- Damper was produced from the seeds, which were ground into flour while the sweet stem bases could be eaten like sugar cane.
- The stems and leaves could also be rolled to make a fine thread.
- Kangaroo grass has glossy red-brown spikelets in groups of 6 to 8 and flowers from September to March.
- Kangaroo grass is sown by seed. The seed heads (30-50cm long) are rusty red in colour drying to brown throughout summer.
- Kangaroo grass grows best in full sunlight but can tolerate partial shade.
- It is adaptable to most soils that don't remain wet.
- It is particularly suited to decorative planting because of its attractive foliage and seed heads, which provide seasonal colour, adaptability and need little maintenance.
- Kangaroo grass is one of the most common grasses found in Melbourne. In Boroondara, good examples can be found at Markham Reserve and Beckett Park Flora Reserve.
- The seeds provide food for birds and are a favourite food for caterpillars of the Common brown butterfly.
Running postman (Kennedia prostrata)
An open trailing or densely matting perennial groundcover with crinkly, hairy, grey-green trifoliate leaves.
- The Running postman has single, scarlet pea-like flowers scattered along its stems. It flowers from April to December.
- Its hard-coated seeds are encased in a pod and ejected once the pod opens.
- It grows best in sun or part shade.
- Running postman needs a well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant once established. As well as being good ground cover it also grows well in a hanging basket, where the flowers can cascade down the sides.
- Running postman may be seen along local creeks such as Back Creek in South Surrey Park.
- Birds are attracted to it as a source of nectar and insects. It also provides food for butterflies.
Soft tussock-grass (Poa morrisii)
A soft, dense, greyish-green tussock grass with loosely rolled, slightly hairy leaves, which grows to a height of 30cm.
- It has open flowers up to 25cm long and flowers from October to January.
- The seeds are enclosed in the tall, finely branched seed heads and change from green to light brown as they mature.
- Seeds are mature if they fall from the seed head when rubbed between your fingers.
- It grows best in the shade.
- Soft tussock-grass needs a moist, well-drained soil and responds well to hard pruning in late summer to early autumn to keep its round shape.
- It is suitable for hedges/borders, banks, rockeries and cottage gardens.
- In Boroondara, Soft tussock-grass can be seen at Beckett Park, Markham Reserve and Yarra Bend Park.
- It provides seeds for small birds and food for butterfly caterpillars.
Spiny-headed mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia)
A large, dense perennial tussock plant up to 1m high with smooth, bright green strap-like leaves.
- It has numerous clusters of scented, yellowish flowers with a purple base.
- The male and female flowers are on separate plants. It flowers from September to December.
- The clustered flower head consists of brown, oval-shaped capsules similar in appearance to a corn kernel.
- It grows in full sun to full shade.
- An excellent landscaping plant, it is useful for borders, narrow gardens or as a feature plant.
- It prefers a well-drained soil and the dense leaf mass discourages weeds around it.
- Older, dead leaves can be torn off to make good mulch.
- It occurs widely throughout Boroondara and has now become a common landscape plant used in car parks and many streetscapes.
- It attracts birds for its seeds as well as providing food for butterfly caterpillars.
- Traditionally, Aboriginal people dried, split and braided its leaves to create baskets and mats.
Tufted bluebell (Wahlenbergia communis)
A tufted perennial with open branched flowering stems and a vigorous root system.
- Growing to 30cm x 40cm, it has small tufts of single hairy narrow leaves up to 40mm long.
- It has pale to bright blue bell-shaped flowers, which flower from November to March.
- The red-brown seeds are oval in shape and 0.5mm long. They mature about 3 to 5 weeks after flowering.
- It grows best in full sun.
- The Tufted bluebell prefers moist, well-drained soils. It is especially attractive when planted in masses or drifts.
- It can be planted in a large container with other herbs or in cottage gardens and rockeries.
- The Tufted bluebell is now commonly seen in Boroondara, in waterway sites such as Wurundjeri Gardens and Pridmore Park, Hawthorn.
- It attracts nectar-feeding insects such as butterflies, beetles and native bees.
Veined spear-grass (Austrostipa rudis)
An elegant, robust perennial grass, which forms small tufts or tussocks.
- It has rough, flat, folded or rolled leaves and grows to a size of 0.4m x 0.4m.
- Veined spear-grass has loose, tall, purple or green flower heads up to 50cm long and flowers from November to January.
- The flower heads contain red-brown spear-shaped seeds in summer.
- Veined spear-grass grows in semi-shade.
- Veined spear-grass grows best in an open position with moist soil.
- It can be used in drifts through trees in the garden or as an accent plant in a garden bed.
- It provides a spectacular sight when the breeze sweeps through it.
- In Boroondara, Veined spear-grass can be seen at Yarra Bend Park.
- Birds are attracted to Veined spear-grass for its seeds.
Yellow bulbine-lily (Bulbine bulbosa)
A small to medium perennial with erect, succulent, rush-like leaves.
- It grows to a size of 25cm x 25cm.
- It has the ability to store water underground during a dry summer or autumn.
- It dies back in dry weather but can continue to produce new leaves and flowers throughout the year if it receives extra watering in summer and autumn.
- Yellow star-like flowers to 20mm wide cluster on a leafless flowering stem from September to February.
- The black seeds are contained within a spherical-shaped fruit found at the base of the flowering stem.
- It grows best in semi-shade or full sun.
- Yellow Bulbine-lily is a showy, adaptable plant that grows best with regular moisture.
- It is drought tolerant.
- It is useful as a highlight plant among grasses or as a mass planting.
- In Boroondara, there are small populations growing in Beckett Park, Balwyn and in Welfare Parade, Glen Iris.
- Yellow bulbine-lily provides food for butterflies.
- Its succulent roots are edible once its leaves have died back.