Saturday 12 February 2011

African grasses

Fountain Grass, Pennisetum setaceum

Although there are many native grasses in East Africa they are seldom used in garden or landscape design. Some foreign grasses can sometimes be found in parks and gardens, but you still see even them rather rarely.

Here however the indigenous Pennisetum setaceum is used at the entrance to Mamba Village in Nairobi. Pennisetum setaceum is native to open, more or less dry habitats in eastern and central Africa, Middle East and further east, but is introduced to many other parts of the world and is now well spread in southern Europe, South Africa, southern North America, Hawaii and many other places. The Fountain Grass is a perennial plant but not very hardy, so in colder areas when it is grown as an ornamental bedding plant it is treated as an annual.

Rhynchelytrum, the Natal Grass or Champagne Grass grows here in a naturalistic, meadow style planting in a private garden in Karen in Nairobi 

Grass as a forage plant is more common...


  1. Fountain grass is an invasive alien in South Africa.
    I had it in my garden, because it was appealing. Once I realised it was invasive I battled with it. We are surrounded by wheat fields because this area lends itself to growing grasses/cereal crops. On the mountain plateau is the Roggeveld, wild rye.

  2. Yes, I have heard of its invasive habit. So how far has the use of grasses in garden design developed in South Africa? And what about members of the Restiaceae family? Are they used?