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The Australian tribe of grasses, Triodieae or ‘spinifex’, was well known to the early explorers of the continent’s centre. The tough sharpened leaf blades of this ‘porcupine grass’ were a dreaded obstacle to the adventurers’ vain pursuit of fertile lands and inland seas - a real Australian ‘thorn in the side’. For most, the endless spinifex grasslands symbolised a harsh and monotonous, if not hostile Australian desert, a place to heroically endure rather than celebrate.

The hummock grasses in the genus Triodia is said to dominate over 20% of Australia's mainland, growing on low nutrient soils found in sand plains and rocky ranges of the arid centre, as well as on rocky outcrops along the coasts.

Spinifex grasses can be divided into two groups known as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ spinifexes.

Hard Spinifex

Hard Spinifex (Triodia basedowii)
Arrernte name: Aywerte
Pronounced: a-YOOR-ta
Hard Spinifex dies from the centre, eventually forming rings 2-3 metres in diameter.

Hard Spinifex (Triodia basedowii)

Bull Spinifex

Bull Spinifex (Triodia longiceps)
Arrernte name: Aywerte
Pronounced: a-YOOR-ta
The Bull Spinifex prefers the limestone soils and rocky outcrops along the range habitats.
Bull Spinifex (Triodia longiceps)

1 Hansjörg Eichler Scientific Research Fund Report - Leaf blades or floral clades - A guide to spinifex phylogeny by Jim Mant, Australian National University, Retrieved August 29, 2008
2 Macquarie University, Hummock Grasslands in Australia, Retrieved August 29, 2008
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