Australian rushes
Australian rushes: biology, identification and conservation of Restionaceae and allied families

Edited by Kathy A. Meney and John S. Pate


Published in 1999 by University of WA Press, b&w illustrations/colour plate, hard cover, 486 pages




ISBN 1876268018 or ISBN 9781876268015

  • Description
  • About the editors
  • Table of contents

The family Restionaceae is an important collection of grass-like or sedge-like plants and are commonly referred to as 'restiads' or 'restioids' and more loosely as 'southern rushes'. They are commonly encountered in wetlands, heathlands and open woodland ecosystems in southern regions of Australia and can even be key components of these associations. Restionaceae grow on nutrient deficient environments and are adapted to the extremes of drought, flood, snow or fire. They contribute importantly to ecosystems through their maintenance of soil stability and as supporting biomass for other macro-flora.


There is an increasing awareness of the value of some members of the Restionaceae to the nursery and florist industries. Baloskion tetraphyllum, for example, has been grown in cultivation for many years and significant efforts have been made to propagate other species for use in the restoration and regeneration of large areas following mining. There is also significant interest in the use of their foliage to complement large flowers in floristic arrangements.


The conservation of this important family is threatened on many fronts. Enrichment of their normally nutrient deficient environment leads to invasion by species more suited to high nutrient levels. Alienation of their habitat has lead to their demise and in some instances to extinction at a local level. This diverse family, with a wide range of growth forms, life forms, reproductive strategies and a variety of adaptations to fire, water and disturbance, are poorly adapted to resist the impact of the human species. Poor understanding of the taxonomy of this family and thus the distribution of species is also an obvious threat to their conservation.


This important book looks at the biology, identification and conservation of the family Restionaceae as well as the closely related families Ecdeiocoleaceae and Anarthriaceae. Almost 150 species of 34 genera are included with full descriptions of all species. Excellent line drawings by Ellen Hickman accompany each species. Illustrated keys are provided for identifying specimens. As well as revising and describing the taxonomy of these long neglected plants the editors have included chapters on the morphology of the Restionaceae and allied families, their classification, anatomical features, response to fire, growth and nutrition, seed reproduction and germination, diseases and incidence of herbivory, propagation details and their conservation in Australia.


A taxonomic treatment alone of these Australian rushes would have made this a worthy book for taxonomists, naturalists, land managers and those interested in native plants and their regeneration. The inclusion of additional information on morphology, classification and anatomy as well as growth, nutrition, reproduction, diseases, fire response, propagation and conservation makes this an essential book.



About the editors


Kathy Meney specialized in the autecology of monocotyledons, especially Restionaceae, particularly in relation to their regeneration, biology and propagation. She was a research associate with Kings Park and Botanic Garden and the University of Western Australia, before establishing the firm Regeneration Technology Pty. Ltd. of which she is a director and principal consultant. She now specializes in restoration ecology with particular interest in wetlands and in the mico­propagation of difficult to grow rushes and sedges for rehabilitation.


John Pate has taught at the University of Sydney, Queen's University, Belfast and the University of Western Australia. His special interests are the physiology and biochemistry of nitrogen fixing plants and the ecophysiology of Australian native plants. He also has studied the biology of native flora such as carnivorous and parasitic plants, the Proteaceae, legumes and rushes and has been particularly interested in the water and nutrient balance of native bush and agricultural land with an aim of developing sustainable land use systems.


Table of contents



Section1. Biology and taxonomy

Section 2. Identification, description and distribution of species

Section 3. Conservation