Spinifex grass is native to Australia. True Spinifex only grows in the coastal sand dunes of Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. Spinifex is the dominant grass of arid and semi-arid grasslands, across the driest parts of Australia.
Spinifex looks beautiful, but it is extremely spiky. Beware of touching the tiny slender stems, each has a very sharp tip!
The iconic spiky spinifex plant provides shelter for native species in the heat of the day and is used for tools, fibre and food by Indigenous Australians.
Many species of spinifex, especially ‘soft spinifex’ such as triodia pungens, are extremely resinous, to the extent that resin may drip down the stems and leaves on hot days, and large residual lumps of resin often may be seen at the bases of hummocks which have burned.
This sticky resin has traditionally been used as an adhesive in tool making by Aboriginal Australians. It is a laborious process. The resin is separated into a dark thermoplastic lump which, after heating over a fire, can be moulded and used for fixing axe heads and spear tips, and other applications that need a strong cement. Spinifex grows in mysterious rings. The plant starts out as a dome then, as it gets older, the centre dies off while the outside continues to expand, giving it its distinctive ring shape. Scientists are still debating why this happen