Upright, slender, grass-like plant to 2 m in moister forest, dry rainforest, riparian areas. Forms erect grass-like tussocks. Perennial herb, not or hardly clumped; rhizome creeping.

Fibres were used to make fishing line. There are records of use as string by Europeans (to bind and carry pigs by the feet).

Tiny flowers in spikes, long lived purplish ‘caterpillar’ flowers borne on long stems, followed by green berries ripening to black, to 8mm.

From gymnos, naked, and stachys, a spike; in reference to the leafless scapes). The only member of Gymnostachys.

The prescence of this plant is a good sign of remnant scrub, as it is not commonly propagated in nurseries. It is an important species in Enoggera scrub, but not “showy” and has attracted little attention.

Photo: Robert Whyte