Real World Gardener Pillar of Smoke in Plant of the Week

April 26th, 2021

Plant of the week

Common Name: Stout Bamboo Grass; Pillar of Smoke (known in the US)

Scientific Name: Austrostipa ramosissima


Leaves: an attractive tall tufted perennial grass with a short rhizome but differs because of its culms (stems) with whorled branches. The stems are bamboo-like.

Flowers: -spring to summer with creamy-white, spreading panicle that is 8 to 50 cm long with striking long, bent awns on the seeds. Feathery feel to the flowers.

Height: 1-2.5m tall forming a sizeable clump over time.

Distribution: from south eastern Queensland to far south eastern New South Wales, with isolated spots in north eastern Queensland and central New South Wales

Interesting fact: used in landcare revegetation projects to attract seed eating birds and control erosion. Is an important habitat for butterflies and small birds, and a plentiful food source for wombats.

Hardiness: drought and frost resistant.

Growing from seed: Fresh seed will germinate in a couple of weeks if using smoke treatment such as wildflower seed starter. Can also be propagated by division.

Uses: bird and insect attracting garden, native garden; bushland garden; hedging for a few years, but will need replacing by pulling out the parent plants and letting new seedlings that have self-sown,

Maintenance: Mature plants can be cut back hard to just aboveground level in late winter to reinvigorate and encourage new growth. It is a relatively low maintenance species but some selective weeding may be necessary as there is potential for seedlings to spread throughout the garden.

I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert and horticulturist.





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