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Chondropetalum elephantinum (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)
Chondropetalum elephantinum (photo courtesy of Andrea Gómez Romero)

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Zones 8, 9, 14-24
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Ample WaterRegular Water
Ample, Moderate

Chondropetalum elephantinum

Cape Rush
Ornamental grasses and grasslike plants

Native to South Africa. Rushlike plant has stems that radiate from the base to form a dense clump 3–5 ft. tall and 4–6 ft. wide. Makes a striking, elegant accent in the ground or in a pot, particularly when a breeze produces a play of light and shadow on its stems. Papery bracts at each stem joint turn from tan to dark brown, then drop off. Narrow clusters of dark brown flower heads (male and female blossoms are on separate plants) top each shoot.

Cape rush likes its feet in water but is also content with a regular watering regime; it will even tolerate considerable drought once new growth is complete. Does not do well with high fertility. Cut old growth to the ground just as new sprouts show in spring, or prune out old stems individually if new shoots are already established. Clump expands slowly by rhizomes. Propagate by seed, since roots do not like to be disturbed.

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