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is a tussock-forming perennial in the family Cyperaceae
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...
, endemic to southern Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...
A herb, sedge or grass-like, with very rough leaf margins and underside. The species grows in dense tussocks, 1.5 metres and 1 metre across, with leaves over 1 metre long and drooping. It is found on white or grey sand, or clay, that may be saline. The leaf blade is inrolled from the margin on the upper surface. Stems are rigid and erect. Branchlets containing the flowering heads emerge from axils at the main bracts. This branchlet has a spike-like arrangement of numerous, yellow or brown, clusters of flowerheads.
The species occurs in wetlands of coastal regions in Southwest Australia
Southwest Australia is a biodiversity hotspot that includes the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregions of Western Australia. The region has a wet-winter, dry-summer Mediterranean climate, one of five such regions in the world...
, South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....
, and Tasmania
Tasmania is an Australian island and state. It is south of the continent, separated by Bass Strait. The state includes the island of Tasmania—the 26th largest island in the world—and the surrounding islands. The state has a population of 507,626 , of whom almost half reside in the greater Hobart...
. It is found at Rottnest, an island off the west coast, where it grows near the inland salt lakes. The habitat is moist, often adjacent to creeks and swamps, and may also be saline.
The first description of Gahnia trifida
was by Jacques Labillardière
Jacques-Julien Houtou de Labillardière was a French naturalist noted for his descriptions of the flora of Australia. Labillardière was a member of a voyage in search of the La Pérouse expedition...
in Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen
Novae Hollandiae Plantarum Specimen is a two volume work describing the flora of Australia. The author was the French botanist Jacques Labillardière, who visited the region in 1792 with the d'Entrecasteaux expedition...