Balga | Grass Tree | Xanthorrhoea preissii
The Balga is a perennial tree-like monocot (grass) that grows up to 5m high, with an often blackened trunk, to over 3m.
Balgas are found on grey to black sands, grey-brown loam, brown gravelly sandy clay, laterite, granite.
Their range includes the coastal plain and near watercourses. Closely packed whitecream flowers are found on a 1.5-2.5m spike in June or August to December.
Balga are often stimulated to flower by fire burning the plant.
The Balga is an extremely important plant for Noongar people and many parts of this plant can be used:
- The bases of the leaves are sweet and nutty, and the heart of the stem was also eaten. Noongar people would chop the top off the tree and scoop out the white pulp within. This pulp is used as a medicine for upset stomachs or eaten as food in times of shortage.
- Nectar was collected from the tall spike of flowers with a sponge made of stringybark.
- At the base of the plant globules of a hard waterproof resin were collected, which served as a cement to fasten barbs in spears or stone axes to handles.
- The tough leaves were used as knives to cut meat.