Saturday, July 24, 2010

Spinifex longifolius - Beach Spinifex

Perth Plants (Barrett & Tay) Pg 250
Kiyanti's Blog (nice story)
Photos: M. Taylor

Some of us new guides were walking along Law Walk when we came across a grass that we immediately identified as Spinifex. We just as quickly realized that it didn't look like the specimen located near the old Boab that most of us have discussed with visitors on our walks. In an instant we doubted our knowledge but just as quickly we resolved to research this plant and figure out what it is.

Beach Spinifex grows predictably, all along all the coastal areas of Western Australia and plays a major role in stabilizing the shifting sands of the coast line. It also provides a safe refuge for some of the smaller beach dwellers as well as a low wind break (about 1 meter high) in which to shelter.

The Male and Female flowers of S. longifolius are different and if you go to the photos you can see both. The male flowers make a splayed form atop the grass stem while the female flowers form in a ball which detaches ready to roll down the beach driven by the wind until it lodges into a dune and begins forming a new plant. Right now each of the S. longifolius that I have seen around the park have detached female flowers ready to populate the earth.

Spinifex is from the Latin "spina" meaning "Spine" and "facere" meaning "to make" which refers to the pointed leaves and bristly heads of the plant.

You can find S. longifolius all along Law walk as well as the hard and soft tracks uphill between Roe Gardens and the elevated walkway.

M. Taylor

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