Flinders Ranges, SA

Natural populations

Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata is endemic to South Australia and occurs from St Vincent Gulf to the northern Mt Lofty Ranges [42]. It is found on ridge tops, rocky outcrops and steep slopes of the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges. There is no variation recorded for this species.

Flowering and seeds

Plants flower in autumn – winter and set seed in spring – summer.  Fruits turn brown on maturity and are dehiscent. Seeds are knocked out (gently) from each spike, and as they spill out of the open values are captured onto stretched out material or some other purpose-built container. No pre-treatment appears necessary for successfully germination of Xanthorrhoea seed [90]. Seed is sown from early spring, for planting out the following winter [12] and incorporated into direct seed programs [93].

Cultivation and uses

Xanthorrhoea plants are important as a nectar source for birds and insects, including emus, cockatoos, rosellas, lorikeets, ringnecks, honeyeaters, silvereyes, wood-swallows feeding on the flowers and/or seed [93]. The leaf skirt of grasstrees is habitat for fairy-wrens, scrub-wrens and small mammals [93].

Key descriptors:
Climate parameters
Mean annual rainfall: 250-550 mm
Rainfall distribution pattern: winter
Mean annual temperature: 9-22 °C
Mean max. temperature of the hottest month: 29-32 °C
Mean min. temperature of the coldest month: 3-4 °C
Frosts (approx. no. per year): greater than 20
Frost intensity: light to moderate (0 to -5°C)
Altitude: 250-2500 metres
Tolerance of extremes in climate
Fire: regenerates foliage after damaging fire
Frost: tolerates frosts in the 0° to -5°C range
Soil factors
Texture: heavy clay (greater than 50% clay) or light to medium clay (35-50% clay)
Soil pH reaction: acidic (less than 6.5)
Soil depth: skeletal to shallow (less than 30 cm)
Drainage: well-drained
Salinity: non-saline
Biological traits under cultivation
Habit: evergreen shrub or small tree less than 5 m tall
Longevity: moderate to long lived (>15 years)
Root system: shallow and spreading


[12] Berkinshaw T (2006) Native Vegetation of the Northern and Yorke Region. Greening Australia, South Australia. 

[42] Flora of Australia (1982 to 2007) Volumes 2 to 47, CSIRO Publishing and the Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra. 

[90] Flynn S, Turner RM, Dickie JB (2004) Seed Information Database (Release 7.0, October 2006). (Online database) (Accessed: July 2007).

[93] Bonney N (2003) What Seed Is That? A guide to the identification, collection, germination and establishment of native plant species for central southern Australian landscapes. Neville Bonney, Tantanoola.

Internet links

South Australia Flora Online – species description & distribution: