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

Grasses and grass-like plants

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

Cyperus prolifer

Dwarf Papyrus

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

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

Eragrostis capensis

Heart-seed grass

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

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

Mariscus solidus

Saw Sedge

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

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