In 1843 Ludwig Leichhardt saw these grass trees (Xanthorrhoea glauca) on the Darling Downs and remarked. ‘Here and there the grass tree is seen either single, or in groups and groves. It is one foot and more in diameter, and eight to ten feet high. Till then I had never seen the grass-tree in rich soil; on the contrary, it was the sign of the poorest sandstone rock and sand. Here the case is reversed, the grass-tree grows in the finest soil, and generally in plains.’ The grass trees still survive on the hills surrounding the Darling Downs and some large specimens are easily accessible on the Bunya Mountains.
Indigenous people used them for food (nectar, flour and grubs), firemaking and glue, while the settlers made glue and other products from the resin. Few have survived European settlement and agriculture. The grass trees on the flats such as those in Martens’s view of the Pilton Plain have long since disappeared.
Near Pilton, Xanthorea or Grass Trees, Dec. 24th 1851 1851*
17.2 x 25.2cm
Collection: Dixson Library, State Library of New South Wales
*Martens's original spelling retained
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