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Products > Chondropetalum tectorum
 
Chondropetalum tectorum - Small Cape Rush
  

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass-like
Family: Restionaceae (Restios)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Brown
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Synonyms: [Elegia tectorum]
Height: 2-3 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Seaside: Yes
Drought Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Chondropetalum tectorum (Small Cape Rush) - This South African plant forms dense tufted clumps from which arise 2-3 foot tall dark green unbranched stems. The dark brown sheaths at the joints drop off in summer leaving a dark band. Late in the season the stems arch gracefully from the weight of clusters of small brown flowers at the tips. Plant in full to part sun. It is drought tolerant, and appreciates supplemental water in spring. It is hardy to about 20-25 degrees F. It can be successfully planted in seaside gardens, used in relatively dry landscapes or used as a plant in the shallows of a water garden. Tolerates a wide soil pH range. The plant widely grown in the US as Chondropetalum tectorum has been reclassified as Chondropetalum elephantinum. This true Chondropetalum tectorum is a smaller plant (about 3 feet tall) from the southern Cape. The larger plant Chondropetalum elephantinum which we still grow as well, is a more robust form up to 6 feet tall from the West Coast. The taxonomic work-up on this was done by Dr. Hans Peter Linder who is a professor at the University of Zurich Institute for Systematical Botany and co-author of the "Restios of the Fynbos". Likely, many of the plants in the nursery trade are from seed collected from the larger form. We received this first offering of the "true" Chondropetalum tectorum seed in the spring of 2004. While this new plant should delight gardeners seeking a smaller plant, it will likely confuse many who know the larger plant under this name. In another taxonomic twist Dr. Linder, based on DNA evidence, has most recently included Chondropetalum in the genus Elegia, so this plant would now become Elegia tectorum. We retain the name Chondropetalum tectorum for this plant until such time as this becomes more widely accepted. The name Chondropetalum comes from the Greek words 'chondros' meaning "wheat" or a "big grain of wheat" and 'petalum' meaning a "flower petal". The origin of the name Elegia is from the Latin word ' elegia' which means a "song of lamentation" perhaps in reference to the rustling sound of the culms in the wind. The specific epithet comes from the Latin 'tectorum' meaning "roofing" in reference to the fact that this species has been used to provide thatching material, though it is likely that the plant most used for thatching was really the larger one now called Chondropetalum elephantinum [Elegia elephantina].  This description is based on our research and observations of this plant as it grows in containers at our nursery, in our own garden and in other gardens. We also appreciate receiving feedback of any kind from those who have additional information about this plant, particularly if they disagree with what we have written or have additional cultural tips that would aid others growing Chondropetalum tectorum .
 
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