Plant of the Month – April 2016


(Austrostipa elegantissima)

 4a 4b




(Photo: E. Cousins, Cape Jervis; feathery fronds overhanging another bush, plant in full bloom in November)

Looking for a showy, clumping grass for a coastal garden? This one is a beauty when in bloom, normally from August to January, because of its misty look. It is a perennial, tufted native grass, growing up to 1m tall from a small rhizome underground. It often likes to grow near shrubs whose foliage will help support the flower stems and the narrow (up to 3mm) leaves, as in the first photo above. The open, diffuse flower heads seem to shimmer in sunlight, because of the long silky hairs on them (see 1st photo again). The flowers have a long, bent stalk, tipped with a bristle (or awn); the stalk itself has one very pronounced bend, and another less obvious second one. This arrangement helps the seed to bury itself in the ground, after clusters of the seed heads are dispersed by being blown off in the breeze.