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Products > Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo'
Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo' - Small Cape Rush
Image of Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo'
[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 'El Campo']
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 'El Campo' (Small Cape Rush) - This selection of Chondropetalum tectorum forms dense tufted clumps from which arise upright 2-3-foot-tall dark green narrow round unbranched stems. These stems have dark chocolate brown sheaths at the joints that drop off in summer leaving a dark band. The stems are nearly vertical when first emerging but late in the season the outer stems arch over gracefully from the weight of clusters of small brown male flowers at the stem tips - Restios are dioecious and this selection is a male.

Plant in full to part sun where it is fairly drought tolerant but appreciates supplemental water in the spring in dry years and can tolerate wet and clay soils as well as a wide soil pH range. It is hardy to about 20 degrees F and can be successfully planted in seaside gardens, used with other mediterranean climate dry landscape plants, planted in the shallows of a water garden or as a container specimen.

Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo' is a selection made in the late 1990s by Dave Fross at Native Sons Nursery in Arroyo Grande, California from plants grown from seed acquired from Silver Hill Seeds in South Africa that were labeled Chondropetalum tectorum. It was introduced into the California nursery trade in 2008 and was noticeably different from much of the typical Chondropetalum tectorum being grown in the California nursery trade at the time. The plant widely grown then as Chondropetalum tectorum was reclassified as Chondropetalum elephantinum by Dr. Hans Peter Linder in 2003. It is a much larger plant (to 6 to 8 feet tall) restricted to the Western Cape of South Africa, while true Chondropetalum tectorum is a smaller finer textured plant with a wider distribution throughout the Cape. As seed suppliers in South Africa began to recognize the difference in the two species, seed from both plants became available. We have grown crops of both species and it was quite clear when we saw first saw 'El Campo' that was a very nice selection of the true Chondropetalum tectorum, so we now divide our stock plants to maintain this cultivar true to type. The name 'El Campo' is a reference to the road in Arroyo Grande where Native Sons Nursery is located.

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 typical forms of these other plants, see our listing of Chondropetalum elephantinum and Chondropetalum tectorum or our Chondropetalum Page that discusses the early confusion between this two species and their differences. 

This information about Chondropetalum tectorum 'El Campo' 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.