FEATHER-HEADS (Ptilotus macrocephalous)

Ptilotus macrocephalus (Feather-heads) – Amaranthaceae

I found this lovely and rather interesting grass, Feather-heads (Ptilotus macrocephalous) in a landscaped bed in the Royal Botanic Garden (RBG) on my regular walks when I lived on the inner south-east side of Melbourne pre-April 2015.

This bed was filled with many different types of grass with various heights, seed heads and interesting planting patterns.

The grass bed below is the particular one I’m talking about.

The bed looks rather overgrown in the 2012 image above, but it is worth a look close-up if you’re visiting the RBG in Melbourne (ehrrr…..assuming it’s still there  😀  ).   The bed gets full sun and I imagine the soil rather dry in Melbourne’s hot summer (like today which is very hot at 38C).

Feather-heads are a perennial with woody rootstock and widespread on dry sites in western Victorian grasslands but becoming increasingly rare.

Few seeds develop during a wet spring as the upright flower collects water and the pollen is destroyed, so I might suggest the last 3 years of flooding rains in Victoria (and the east coast of Australia in general) might have wiped this grass out in the wild?  Just a guess.   The long-range weather forecast said the next 3 years are going to be exessivly dry and hot in Australia.

FEATHER-HEADS (Ptilotus macrocephalus)

It’s native to Australia and classified as a herb.  The showy ‘bottlebrush-like’ flowers are up to 12cm long and 7cm wide, held at the ends of stems up to 80cm tall.

Just another of the grasses filed in a folder in my photo library that actually is identified – most are not.


7 thoughts on “FEATHER-HEADS (Ptilotus macrocephalous)

    1. Yes, I thought that ‘water-collecting’ fact was an interesting one on the website I was reading.
      Too hot (38C) to do anything much at the moment……even work on the computer or blogging.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Eliza. I often wish I had a real garden (where I could put in an auto watering system for our hot, dry summer.
      As much as I like these beautiful grasses, I can’t imagine putting them in pots on my balcony. Grass needs the freedom to stretch and catch the breeze.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps it might, Tracy.
      I’ve got a photo of one flower in the RBG that is only found in the wild in one tiny (uhmm) 5-6 mile radius in country Victoria. There are so many plants that must be heading towards extinction with the recent climate change.


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