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The Botanical Society of South Africa
       Kwa Zulu-Natal Coastal Branch

Grasses and grass-like plants 2016

Many gardeners don’t use grasses (other than lawn grass) very much. But grasses are important for holding the soil in place and as larval host plants for many butterflies. They add peaceful, natural forms to a planting and are particularly beautiful in and next to water. Experiment with grasses if you want your garden to mimic nature.

Andropogon eucomus

Snowflake Grass

1m, sun, perennial clumping grass with decorative fluffy white inflorescence

Andropogon eucomus

Snowflake Grass

1m, sun, perennial clumping grass with decorative fluffy white inflorescence

Aristida junciformis

Ngongoni Three-awn

Ornamental tufted grass, 1m, honey-coloured flowers; thrives in poor soils.

Carex austro-africana

Fen Grass

Spreading grass-like plant for sunny, damp areas

Carex ecklonii

Cape Fen Grass

Spreading grass-like plant 25cm, from the Eastern Cape, for sunny damp areas

Chlorophytum saundersiae 'Starlight'

Weeping Anthericum

40cm, sun/shade, white flowers all year.

Cyperus albostriatus

Forest Star Sedge

30cm spreading sedge with rosette of leaves. Good groundcover for dry shade

Cyperus papyrus

Nile Papyrus

2-3m giant 'papyrus' clumping in sun, swamp. Attractive form plants

Cyperus prolifer

Dwarf Papyrus

70cm dwarf sedge, sun, damp soil. Very attractive.

Cyperus textilis

Common Star Sedge

60cm sedge, damp to wet soil. Nest material for birds.

Dietes grandiflora

Large Wild Iris

70cm clumping, sword shaped leaves, sun/shade; large white flowers all year

Elegia (Chondropetalum) tectorum


1m dense rush-like clumps. Good feature plant. Sun, damp to dry sandy soil

Eragrostis capensis

Heart-seed Love Grass

Perennial in full sun. Inflorescences bear heart-shaped spikelets

Juncus kraussii

Matting Rush

1.5 m, sun, damp-marshy soil, ornamental,

Juncus lomatophyllus

Leafy Juncus

Attractive low sedge for marshy soil, sun. Soft, flat, pointed leaves

Mariscus solidus

Saw Sedge

1.0m, sun, damp to wet areas; Coarse leaves, large gold-brown inflorescence

Melinis nerviglumis

Bristle-leaved Red Top

1m, perennial, tufted grass. Lovely red inflorescence.

Melinis repens

Natal Red Top

1m, sun. Red inflorescence for floral arrangements, attracts seed-eaters

Merxmuellera macowanii

Cape Wire Grass

Large clumping grass on 'Berg stream banks. Green in winter. Sun/semi

Miscanthus capensis

Daba Grass

1m woody small shrub, sun/shade, scented white flowers. Orange fruit for birds

Oplismenus hirtellus

Basket Grass

Small ornamental spreading grass 15cm, grows well in shade. Birds eat seeds

Setaria megaphylla

Broad-leaved Bristle Grass

1-2m clumps of large pleated leaves, sun/shade; Mannekins enjoy the seeds

Setaria sphacelata

Bristle Grass

Clumping grass with attractive graceful compact golden inflorescence; birds

Themeda triandra

Red Grass

Tufted perennial, 60cm, leaf blades reddish when old

Typha capensis

Cape Bulrush

Deciduous wetland plant, 1.5m, colonising shallow water. Red-brown inflorescence