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

Grasses and grass-like plants 2013

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

Aristida junciformis

Ngongoni Three-awn

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

Carex ecklonii

Cape Fen Grass

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

Chlorophytum saundersiae

Weeping Anthericum

60cm clumping grass-like plant, sun/shade, arching white flowerspikes all year

Cyperus dives

Giant Sedge

2m robust clumping sedge for wet marshy areas; sharp-serrated leaf-margins

Cyperus papyrus

Nile Papyrus

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

Cyperus prolifer

Dwarf Papyrus

70cm dwarf 'papyrus' sedge, sun, wet soil. Attractive sphaerical inflorescences

Cyperus textilis

Common Star Sedge

1m clumping sedge, damp to wet soil. Clustered terminal leaflets; nest material

Dietes bicolor

Peacock Flower

70cm clumping with grass-like leaves, sun/semi-shade; pretty yellow flowers

Dietes flavida

Natal Wild Iris

70cm clumping with grass-like leaves, sun/semi-shade; pale yellow flowers

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

Eleocharis limosa

Toothbrush Sedge

1m clumping spiky sedge, unusual flowers, thrives in moist places in sun/semi

Eragrostis capensis

Heart-seed grass

70cm perennial tufted grass, wet places. Leaves from base, pretty inflorescence

Eragrostis curvula

Weeping Love Grass

80cm robust and decorative tufted grass in sun; good for stabilising exposed soil

Hyperhenia hirta

Thatching Grass

3m tall annual grass, sun; pretty yellow flowers; does well in Kloof and inland

Juncus effusus

Spreading Rush

Tufted perennial sedge, 1m, prefers damp to wet soil. Good for water features

Juncus kraussii

Matting Rush (Ncema)

1.5m ornamental spreading rush, needs sun, damp-marshy soil; sleeping mats

Juncus lomatophyllus

Leafy Juncus

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

Mariscus solidus

Saw Sedge

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

Melinus nerviglumis

Natal Red Top

Bunching grass, 30cm, sun. 60cm red inflorescence used in floral arrangements

Miscanthus capensis

Daba Grass

Up to 2m, robust bunching grass with silky red-brown inflorescence, damp areas

Scirpus ficinioides

Mountain Rush

50cm soft spreading rush, damp to marshy soil, compact brown flowerheads

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 grass, 60cm, old leaf blades reddish; Healthy veld indicator

Typha capensis

Cape Bulrush

1.5m deciduous reed-like plant, shallow water. Dense red-brown inflorescence