The Q&A Archives: Is this a Cape Rush

Question: I bought two of your reeds (or rushes) and finally found the tag from one. It says Monrovia Drought Tolerant Cape Rush. I think that is what our plant is but your picture on the tag is not big enough for me to tell if it is the same as ours. Can you look at ours at

and tell me if that is one of your Cape Rush.

Thank you,


Answer: I am unable to access the photo on your website so can only offer the following information: Chondropetalum tectorum is the botanical name for Cape Rush. This South African plant forms dense tufted clumps from which arise 2-3 feet tall dark green unbranched stems. The dark brown sheaths at the joints drop off in summer leaving a dark band. Late in the season the stems arch gracefully from the weight of clusters of small brown flowers at the tips. Plant in full to part sun. It is drought tolerant, and appreciates supplemental water in spring. It is hardy to about 20-25 degrees F. It can be successfully planted in seaside gardens, used in relatively dry landscapes or as a plant in the shallows of a water garden. Tolerates a wide soil pH range. The plant widely grown in the US as Chondropetalum tectorum has been reclassified as Chondropetalum elephantinum. This true Chondropetalum tectorum is a smaller plant (about 3 feet tall) from the southern Cape. The larger plant Chondropetalum elephantinum which we still grow as well, is a more robust form up to 6 feet tall from the West Coast. The taxonomic work up on this was done by Dr. Hans Peter Linder who is a professor at the University of Zurich Institute for Systematical Botany and co-author of the "Restios of the Fynbos". Likely of the plants in the nursery trade are from seed collected from the larger form. We received this first offering of the "true" Chondropetalum tectorum seed in the spring of 2004. While this new plant should delight gardeners seeking a smaller plant, it will likely confuse many who know the larger plant under this name.

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