May 01, 2007
The photo above shows grass trees (Xanthorrhoea australis) flowering in the Brisbane Ranges National Park of Australia (October 2006). Ten months earlier, this National Park was in flames. Although nearby homes were destroyed in January 2006, no human lives were lost in the week-long bush-fire. The short-term effects of bush-fires can appear severe, but occasional fire is part of the normal reproductive cycle for many Australian flora species. Brisbane Ranges National Park is home to 619 plant species, around one-fifth of Victoria's native flora, including some particularly rare wildflowers, and more than 180 bird species.
The slow-growing Xanthorrhoea are susceptible to epidemic die-back disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi, or cinnamon fungus, but they've been shown to regenerate rapidly from seed. The Wotjobaluk, Wathaurung and Gunai/Kurnai people of Victoria used Xanthorrhoea for food, drink, fibre and making implements.