AGAVACEAE - Agave Family

This family has some 600 species, that are often found in warm arid zones. Many species are planted in gardens, and may persist around settlement sites, but only one can so far be considered truly naturalised.

Agave americana (century plant) is a robust perennial with giant rosettes of stiff, spine-tipped leaves, with numerous teeth (to 1cm long) along their margins. The flowers are carried on stems up to 7m tall and are produced in summer, with plants flowering only once then dying soon after. It forms thickets by suckering and can be found at various sites around old settlements from Shark Bay to Israelite Bay. The sap can cause contact dermatitis. A. sisalana (sisal), which is grown in other countries for its fibres, became naturalised on Rottnest Island, but has since been eradicated. It is very similar to
A. americana, but does not have spines on the margins of its leaves. Both native to Mexico.

Agave americana. RR

Furcraea foetida (Cuba hemp) has become naturalised at Kings Park and possibly elsewhere. It is similar to century plant but has green, rather than grey-green, untoothed leaves. The flowering stems reach 10m high, and produce pendulous white flowers in summer. Native to Central America.

Yucca aloifolia (yucca) has a rosette of stiff, bayonet-like leaves arising from a stout stalk and produces a huge pyramid of cream, bell-shaped flowers in spring. A garden escape, it persists around old settlements, such as at Busselton and in Kings Park. Native to south-eastern USA.

Yucca aloifolia. RR


ALISMATACEAE - Water Plantain Family

A cosmopolitan family of perennial herbs, either aquatic or growing in wetlands. Three species in Western Australia, one naturalised.

 Alisma lanceolatum is an ornamental aquatic plant arising from a rhizome, with narrow lanceolate leaves borne above the water level. The pinkish white flowers are held aloft on a slender, branched stalk, and are produced in summer. Found in drains and wetlands near Harvey. Native to Eurasia.
Sagittaria platyphylla (was S. graminea var. paltyphylla) (sagittaria) DP an ornamental aquatic plant has been found in the Canning River. This is a serious aquatic weed, native of north and central America.

Alisma lanceolatum. GK


ALLIACEAE - Onion Family

A family of Northern Hemisphere perennials, mostly with bulbs or corms. Worldwide there are about 570 species, with six naturalised in Western Australia.

There are about 400 different species of Allium, all characterised by having an 'oniony' smell. They flower in spring, dying back each winter to regrow from the bulb. Besides those grown as a vegetable, some species are also grown for their attractive flowers.
A. ampeloprasum (leek) has been found on wasteland between Perth and Albany. It is a stout plant, with leaves sheathing a stem up to 1m high that bears a spherical head of small, pinkish-mauve flowers. The stamens are longer than the petals. A. neapolitanum (Naples onion) is found in similar situations, but it is a smaller plant, with hollow leaves, white flowers and stamens shorter than the petals.

Allium ampeloprasum. GK

A. triquetrum (three-cornered garlic) has a distinctive three-cornered stem and a bunch of drooping white flowers each up to 1.5cm long. A garden escape, it favours moist soils around creeklines and granite rocks, and is a potentially very serious bushland weed, as it can soon dominate the ground layer. All the above are native to southern Europe and North Africa.
A. vineale (crow garlic) has pithy cylindrical stems to 50cm and hollow, cylindrical leaves. It produces a head of pinkish-white flowers, with stamens that are shorter than the petals. However, the head has fewer flowers than bulbils, which are its usual means of spreading. It has been found in agricultural areas in the wetter south-west, but has seldom been recorded recently. Native to Europe.

Allium triquetum. SE

Ipheion uniflorum grows from a bulb and has narrow, strap-like leaves. In spring it has pale blue star-shaped flowers to 15cm tall. A garden escape, currently known to be naturalised in the Perth area and at Busselton and Kojonup. Native to Argentina.


Nothoscordum gracile (wasN. borbonicum) (false onion weed) has several strap-like leaves arising from a bulb and is superficially similar to three-cornered garlic. However, it does not have an 'oniony' smell and produces a cluster of white, scented flowers on a cylindrical stalk up to 50cm tall in late spring. It produces many small, white, basal bulbils. Found on roadsides, wasteland and in disturbed bushland between Perth and Albany. Native to South America.  

Nothoscordum gracile, GK

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