Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Gymnostachys anceps R.Br.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flowers. © Barry Jago
Inflorescence. © G. Sankowsky
Fruit and inflorescence. © CSIRO
Inflorescences [not vouchered]. © Lars Nauheimer
Habit [not vouchered]. © Lars Nauheimer
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, hypogeal germination. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 337. Type: R. Brown (BM, K).

Common name

Traveller's Grass; Sword-sedge; Settler's Twine; Settler's Flax; Caterpillar Flower


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 2 m tall.


Leaf blades long and narrow, about 100-200 x 2-2.5 cm, margins finely toothed. Midrib also finely toothed on the underside of the leaf blade at least towards the apex. Venation longitudinal and parallel.


Inflorescence up to 2 m long with several spikes arising from alternating bracts near the apex. Flowers emerge over a long period of time. Peduncle +/- flattened, margins scabrid. Perianth lobes fleshy. Staminal filaments fleshy, glabrous, short and broad, about as wide as the base of the anther.


Fruits about 14-16 x 9-10 mm. Seeds teardrop-shaped, about 13 x 7 mm. Seeds green.


First pair of true leaves +/- linear, cataphyll-like, longitudinally veined, not differentiated into a leaf blade and petiole. Base sheathing the stem. At the tenth leaf stage: leaves linear, venation longitudinal and parallel, not differentiated into a leaf blade and petiole. Base sheathing the stem. Margins toothed +/- from the base to the apex. Teeth irregularly shaped. Seed germination time 79 to 152 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as south-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 1100 m. Grows as an understory plant in undisturbed rain forest.

Gymnostachys gigantea Domin, Bibliotheca Botanica 89(4): 502(1928), Type: Nordost-Queensland: Regenwalder bei Harveys Creek und am Fusse des Bellenden-Ker (DOMIN, XII. 1909).
RFK Code
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