Kangaroo grass (Themeda triandra)    

kangaroo grass

Kangaroo grass. Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

Running postman flowers

Running postman. Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

Soft tussock grass

Soft tussock grass (Poa). Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

Spiny headed mat rush. Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

Tufted bluebell flowers

Tufted bluebell. Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

Spear grass

Spear grass. Image by Ian Moodie.

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)    

yellow bulbine lily

Yellow bulbine-lily. Image by Ian Moodie.

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.
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