Gahnia with fallen branch

Tall Saw-sedge (Gahnia clarkei)

Below the dam wall grows a large patch of a wild, long, wind-blown, grass-like plant with large black-brown seed heads.  It’s intimidating in some ways – the perfect hide-out for snakes and other creatures I’d rather avoid.   I walk around it, and never through it.  Always, it grabs my attention because there is something beautiful about this wildness.

A month or two ago, we had a friend stay with us. Her son is knowledgeable about Australian Native grasses, so she took a seed head home with her for him to identify.  Given he didn’t have a sample of the leaves or other parts of the plant, he could only say it was a Gahnia of some sort.   Looking at the VicVeg website for Gahnia species that grow in Corangamite, I’ve narrowed it down to a best guess of Gahnia clarkei, or Tall Saw-sedge.  While it may turn out to be one of the other Gahnia species, I have selected the Tall Saw-Sedge because it is evergreen, and the other Saw-sedge plants seem to dry out into yellow leaves.  Ours has always had green leaves.

The Tall Saw-sedge  is native to Australia, and likes to grow in damp, boggy ground.   This would explain why it grows below the dam wall, and also indicates that perhaps our dam water is seeping through the wall.

These photographs were taken in November 2013 – before I had the Macro lens – so I don’t have a close-up of the seeds. However, you will get a sense of the grace in the mess of long sharp leaves, and weeping seed heads.

Gahnia with fallen branch
Depending on the time of year, the leaves can be waist-high or longer, and the seed heads are chest high.
Gahnia Seed head
The contrast of the dark seed heads against the bright green leaves of the Saw-Sedge is striking.

4 thoughts on “Tall Saw-sedge (Gahnia clarkei)

  1. Beautiful grass! Lisa, thanks so much for sharing all you have around with us! Your postings are very interesting. In regard to the photos, or writing, they are beautiful! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Check out Gahnia radula, Thatch Saw-sedge which is the common saw-sedge in the area. Gahnia sieberiana, Red-fruited Saw-sedge occurs in wetter areas and has red nuts.

    Gahnia radula has 5-7 glumes (leaf-like bracts below the flower) with the upper glumes shorter than the lower glumes. The nut is dark brown or black. You may be able to count the glumes on the old flower spikes.

    Gahnia clarkei has 12-17 glumes with the upper glumes longer than the lower glumes and had red-orange nuts. Its occurrence is closer to the coast.

    This information comes from Flora of Victoria vol 2. Hope it helps.

    1. Thanks John, I’ll do some counting. This information is new to me. I must try to get hold of the ‘Flora of Victoria’ books. Who publishes these? Vic Veg didn’t have any specific information, just a lot of photographs, which I used to try to identify the species. Also did a couple of Google searches, but didn’t find very much that was specific. Your information is useful. Thanks 🙂 Lisa

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s