Balga (Grass Tree)

Origin: Australia

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Xanthorrhoeoideae
Scientific Name: Xanthorrhoea preissii

Indigenous Names: Balga (Noongar), yakka (SA, possibly Kaurna)
Folk Names: Previously known as “blackboys” due to the flowering plant being seen as resembling an Indigenous person with a spear.

Ethical Concerns: The name “blackboy” is no longer at the request of the Indigenous community, due to the racist/colonialist implications.


Element: Air
Direction: North
Day: Wednesday
Planet: Uranus
Zodiac: Aquarius

Parts Used: Leaves, resin

Magical Properties: Longevity, travel, knowledge, resilience, strength, sincerity

Magical Uses


Indigenous Medicinal Uses:


The resin was frequently used in Australia until the mid-1990s, including being burnt in churches as incense, used for polishing/coating metal surfaces, and as an ingredient in wood varnish.

Indigenous Uses:


Xanthorrhoea contains roughly 30 species, all known as grass trees, which are endemic to Australia and found in all states.

There are records of grass trees over 7m high, although these were mostly cut down by colonisers, and most remaining plants are under 3m tall.

Type: Perennial ‘tree’
Plant size: 3m+
Bark: Fern-like ‘trunk’ of previous years' leaf growth
Leaves: Tough, narrow grass-like leaves with a diamond cross-section, often over 1m long
Flowers: Djilba to Kambarang: Many small cream-coloured flowers on an upright spike 1.5-2.5m long
Fruit: A small portion of flowers tend to develop into fruits, which form round/pointed woody capsules which open to release seeds.

Etymology: Xanthorrhoea refers to the resin from the plants, and comes from Ancient Greek “yellow flow” - xanthos (‘yellow, golden’) and rhoea (‘flowing, flow’).

In the Garden

Type: Slow-growing perennial
Light: Full sun
Water: Drought-tolerant
Soil: Well-draining


Campbell, Colin (25/02/2006), Gardening Australia: from