San Marcos Growers LogoSan Marcos Growers
New User
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
Nursery Closure
Search Utilities
Plant Database
Search Plant Name
Detail Search Avanced Search Go Button
Search by size, origins,
details, cultural needs
Website Search Search Website GO button
Search for any word
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings


  for JULY

Natives at San Marcos Growers
Succulents at San Marcos Growers
 Weather Station

Products > Chondropetalum tectorum
Chondropetalum tectorum - Small Cape Rush
Image of Chondropetalum tectorum
[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
Summer Dry: 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 but appreciates supplemental water in spring in dry rainfall years. It is hardy to about 20 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 and tolerates a wide soil pH range.

The plant widely grown in the US as Chondropetalum tectorum has been reclassified as Chondropetalum elephantinum. The true Chondropetalum tectorum is a much smaller more delicate plant that is more widely distibuted the southern Cape while the larger plant Chondropetalum elephantinum, which we still grow as well, is a more robust form up to 6 to 8 feet tall from the west coast of the Cape region. It was long included in Chondropetalum tectorum but described as a separate species in 2010 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 originally sold as Chondropetalum tectorum 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 that was originally sold under this name.

In another taxonomic twist Peter Linder and Phillip Moline in 2005 included Chondropetalum in the genus Elegia based on DNA evidence, 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]. For more information on the larger plant previously sold under this name, see our listing of Chondropetalum elephantinum and our Chondropetalum Page that discusses the early confusion between this two species and their differences. We also grow Native Sons Nursery's select form of Chondropetalum tectorum that is called Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo'

This information about Chondropetalum tectorum displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.