Ellen Zagory

Small cape rush (Chondropetalum tectorum) grow outside the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on the UC Davis campus.

Durable Delights: Small cape rush a graceful addition to dry garden

Published: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 - 6:51 pm

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delights, 30 can’t-fail, easy-care plants well adapted to our region.

Small cape rush

Chondropetalum tectorum

Size: Under 3 feet tall.

Bloom season: Summer and fall.

Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune back in winter to renew.

Water needs: Once established, water deeply twice a month; cape rush appreciates a little extra water in spring.

Snapshot: Cape rush is an unusual plant from South Africa with evergreen stems and chocolate-colored grasslike flower spikes. Adding movement to the dry garden, it creates a fountain 2 to 3 feet tall that sways in the wind. Small cape rush grows to half the size of standard cape rush ( Chondropetalum elephantinum), which can reach 6 feet tall. This perennial contrasts nicely with silver-leaved plants and colorful flowers. You can see specimens in several locations on the UC Davis campus, such as near the Arboretum’s Gazebo. Small cape rush also is a popular addition to new water-efficient landscaping near the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

• For more on Durable Delights, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

More online

See photo galleries of the arboretum’s Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden.

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