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Products > Pharus glaber
Pharus glaber - Pharus Grass

Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.  
Image of Pharus glaber
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: Southern States (North America)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Brown
Bloomtime: Summer
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: 3-4 feet
Exposure: Light Shade/Part Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): High Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: Unknown
Pharus glaber (Pharus Grass) A very interesting and attractive grass that forms a dense clump of foliage 18-24 inches tall and spreading slowly by rhizomes with wide mid green broad 4 to 5 inch long by 2 inches wide glabrous leaves that look more like a Ruscus in the lily family or even a ginger than it does a grass. Above the foliage forms an airy inflorescence followed by unusual black seed heads that have hooked hairs that attach themselves firmly to fur (and clothing), presumably as a strategy for dispersion. We are not sure if this plant will survive in southern California gardens with our cool moist winters but it certainly would be worth a try as it is quite unique and certainly would be an interesting conservatory plant. Pharus glaber was once native to a wide range in the sandy hammocks of central Florida but only two recently discovered natural populations are known to still exist in the United States. Prior to these finds it had been long thought to be extinct in Florida, though the species can also be found growing in other locations in the new world tropics. Not only are the leaves wider than a typical grass but they are held upside down because of a twisted petiole so the hairs typically found on the upper surface of a grass are on the lower surface with the upper surface smooth and shiny. This is the only genus in the grass family to have this characteristic and with a couple other genera are considered to be in their own subfamily, the Pharoideae, which is thought to have broken away early in the evolution of the grass. It was described by the German botanist Karl S. Kunth in in Nova Genera et Species Plantarum in 1816 and is sometimes listed as a synonym to Pharus lappulaceus that was described in 1818 by the French naturalist Jean Baptiste Lamarck (1744 1829) in his Flore des Antilles. The name for the genus comes from the Greek word 'pharos' meaning "mantle", "a piece of cloth" or "cloak", possibly in reference to the broad leaves and the specific epithet is the Latin word that means "hairless", "smooth" or "bald" referring to the smooth upper surface of the leaves. It is sometimes also commonly called Creeping Leafstalkgrass. Our plants were grown from seed that had stuck to clothing worn by Randy Baldwin and John Greenlee when photographing a stand of this plant in September 2015 at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales Florida. The accompanying images were taken at this time. 

This information about Pharus glaber 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.