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At Daleys Turf we have had reports over the last few years of a problem with discolouration of lawn leaves; the leaves were actually turning white, as you can see from the photo.

One cause may be a tree called, Xanthostemon Chrysanthus or Golden Penda, a tree endemic to Queensland, since the discoloured lawn leaves were found around this plant. This plant can be spread to different areas of the yard by human or animal traffic, but generally it occurs directly opposite to the prevailing wind for that time of year or location.

Officially this occurrence is known as Allelopathy and is a biological phenomenon, in which one plant has beneficial or harmful effects on another plant by releasing chemicals from parts of the plant via:

  • Leaching
  • Root exudation
  • Volatilisation
  • Residue decomposition and other processes

Allelopathy is common with some species of trees and is used to suppress other plants in the surrounding area.

As far as we are aware this process will not kill your lawn. However, it will affect the effectiveness of the lawn’s photosynthesis process. Being a seasonal problem, the removal of the plant will fix the problem. If removal is not an option, heavily pruning of the plant before the flowering season may reduce the effects on your lawn.

We also suggest keeping your lawn well fertilised, so that when the flowering period is over, the lawn plants are in a much better position to bounce back and regain its health and vitality. When mowing use a catcher to decrease the likelihood of spreading the plant and limit traffic in the affected areas.

If your lawn is turning white, but you don’t have a Golden Penda in your area, you may need to look at some other possible causes. We have more information from customers informing us of different experiences, so Contact Us today.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I have Kings Pride in the front yard that is 2 years old. My problem is that it appears to be dying off in patches and I don’t know why? I can send a picture if this would help.

    1. Hi Dave,

      Your lawn sounds like it will need feeding, when installed we generally incorporated new fresh soil and other amendments, along with fertiliser, after a year or two, this is exhausted and the lawn will show signs of reducing in performance. This may be your situation, as it often goes into patches and turns yellow & dry looking. Otherwise, please send us a photo or give me more detail, like last time fertilised and what with, soil type, ie clayish, black or sandy…


  2. I have a couple of great photos of my grass leaves that have turned white, growing under a Golden Penda Tree here in Marcus Beach Queensland. I can send you a couple of photos if you want so you can use as an example.

  3. Hi Terry,
    Thank you for publishing this article, had this problem at one of my sites and we’ve tried everything to get rid of it but with no success. Have a better understanding now to try and deal with it.
    Ollie Hardt
    Gardens & Green Horticulture

  4. Interesting. We have just laid turf which is looking fantastic…. except for quite a large patch that has turned white. My husband has fertilised, it is getting sun and we could’ntceork out why. Funnily enough it is growing under/around a Golden Penda tree.

  5. Planting couch grass instead of broadleaf grass solves the problem. The Golden Pender trees at my house decimated my lawns. We re turfed with broadleaf grass twice, and got the same result. Returfed again with cough grass and it has solved the problem. However, it does need to be watered and fertilised regularly, and mowing with a catcher. Pruning before flowering assists but impossible as the tree matures and gains height.

  6. Holy Snapping Ducks Batman! Came home this afternoon and my previously lush Axonopus compressus back lawn was white. Seriously white… like a blanket of snow. Overnight. Weekend before last I had raked up all the leaves under the golden penda at the bottom of my yard and spread them over the lawn to run the lawn mower over them to start a new mulch pile! Won’t be doing that again!! Mystery solved ?

  7. Thank you for this article. I have been scratching my head trying to figure out why one part of my lawn turns white each year. It is all within 10 to 15m of a Golden Penda. It’s great to know the cause.

  8. My kikuyu lawn under my bottlebrush is going white – it literally has no chlorophyll in it, starting from the root side and extending down the blades. This appears to be spreading in patches to other parts of my lawn. Could it be a fungal disease, as it’s not a Golden Penda tree?

    1. Hi Cathy, Most likely its the same as what a Golden Penda does to buffalo, which is Allelopathy- is like plant chemical warfare that can harm or kill nearby plants. I wasn’t aware a bottle brush could cause this but thats where i would start looking for possible cause. I know possums can also turn lawn white but this is generally in patches. What else is around the bottle brush? what is up wind of white lawn? are their any tree roots around?

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