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

Grasses and grass-like plants 2015

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.


Aristida junciformis

Ngongoni Three-awn

Ornamental 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

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

Chlorophytum saundersiae

Weeping Anthericum

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

Chlorophytum saundersiae 'Starlight'

Variegated Weeping Anthericum

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

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.

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,

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. Remains green in winter. Sun/semi shade

Miscanthus capensis

Daba Grass

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

Oplismenus hirtellus

Basket Grass

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

Pseuderanthemum subviscosum

White-flowered Chocolate Plant

1m, shade/semi, white flowers (pale pink every 3rd year)

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