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Products > Thamnochortus insignis
Thamnochortus insignis - Thatching Reed

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass-like
Family: Restionaceae (Restios)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Brown
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 15-20 F
Thamnochortus insignis (Thatching Reed) - This tall restio grows to 4 to 6 feet tall with older stems that arch over to create a mass of foliage 6-9 feet in diameter. Plant in full sun and give it room to grow. It is a very durable plant that will tolerate drought (once established), coastal seaside conditions and moderate frost; we have even received a report from a gardener growing it in Redding California where it has tolerated temperatures as low as 15F. Like most restios it prefers acidic soil but it will grow in most any soil as long as it drains fairly well. When grown from seed the young first culms are small, finely divided, and curly looking; the tall, single culms appear when the seedlings are nearly a year old. Male and female plants are separate and very similar when they are not flowering which occurs in mid-summer (July-August) and female plants produce large amounts of seed from October-November. The plants are ornamental year-round but particularly attractive a couple months prior to flowering through several months after producing seed. Like Chondropetalum this plant is used for roof thatching and because of its long culms is actually the most common species used for this purpose. The culms reportedly can be harvested every five years and last up to 30 years on a typical roof and even longer in drier areas. Thamnochortus insignis comes from the coastal forelands from Bredasdorp to Riversdale, in South Africa. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words, 'thamno' meaning "bush" and 'chortus' meaning "grass" in reference to the bushy nature of these grass-like plants. The specific epithet is Latin meaning " remarkable", "noted", "distinguished" or "extraordinary". We have grown this great plant since first getting seed of it from Silverhill Seeds of South Africa in 2004.  Information on this page is based on research conducted in our nursery library, 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 where we have observed it. We also will incorporate comments received from others and welcome getting feedback of any kind from those who have additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips would aid others in growing Thamnochortus insignis.