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Products > Melinis nerviglumis
Melinis nerviglumis - Ruby grass

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [M.'Pink Crystals' , Rhynchelytrum neriglume]
Height: 1 foot
Width: <1 foot
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Melinis nerviglumis (Ruby grass) - A small semi-evergreen cool-season grass from S. Africa that forms a tidy 1 foot tall clump. It has blue-green foliage that turns purplish-red in the fall and showy pink flowers that rise a foot above the foliage in the spring and summer with spent flowers still attractive into winter. Best in full sun with regular water in a well-drained soil but tolerates considerable periods without irrigation and near seaside conditions. Is hardy to around 20 F and perennial in gardens in USDA Zones 8 and above but useful as an annual in colder climates. Cut back in fall to midwinter to allow fresh new foliage to emerge in early spring. A very attractive grass massed or scattered in a border planting or as a container specimen. This grass is called "one of the showiest of the small flowering grasses" by John Greenlee in his "Encyclopedia of Flowering Grasses". Ruby Grass is native to large areas of Africa south of the Sahara and also in Madagascar. There are several interpretations for the entomology of the genus name. One thought is that it is derived from the Greek 'melas' meaning "black" for its black seeds but another thought is that it is from the Latin 'mel' meaning honey for the sweet aroma some species have. The specific epithet is in reference to the veins on the glume (flower bracts). We have grown this plant since 1997 and early on used its older name Rhynchelytrum neriglume. This same plant is marketed under the names 'Pink Crystals' and 'Savannah' and besides Ruby Grass is commonly called Bristle-leaved Red Top. It should not be confused with the related Melinis repens that has naturalized in disturbed sites along the California coast.  The information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library and from online sources as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing  Melinis nerviglumis.