Gahnia aspera (CYPERACEAE) Rough Saw-sedge

Plants to Plant

Clumping sedge to 1 metre with long and narrow leaves, rough to the touch. Common in eastern Australia along the Great Dividing Range from the south coast of NSW to northern Queensland in a variety of habitat including rainforest. Deserves to be grown more in gardens and revegetations as a substitute for lomandra. Hard, even drought tolerant, in most conditions, though it prefers moist soils to get established. Fruit is a dark reddish-brown nut 5 mm in length. Leaf buds eaten raw by Aborigines. The nuts pounded to make flour.
Photo: Robert Whyte


Propagation is difficult and takes up to 18 months with masses of seed in a box with only side draining (no holes in the bottom), to simulate swampy conditions. Keep adding seed at intervals for successive germinations. Attracts birds such as brush turkeys by colour and movement of the seed in the wind – the relatively indigestible fruit passes whole through the bird’s system.

Close-up of fruit. Photo: Robert Whyte

Host Plant

Host plant for some butterflies including the Spotted Sedge-skipper Hesperilla ornata ornata, the Twin-spotted Sedge-skipper Hesperilla malindeva and probably the Greenish Darter Telicota ancilla. Source: John Moss 2002 Butterfly Host Plants of South-east Queensland and Northern New South Wales.

Spotted Sedge-skipper. Photo: Quartl