Scientific Name: Restionaceae
Common Name: Restios
Plant Type: Perennial grass-like plant
Environment: Tolerant of dry conditions once established, most restios need excellent drainage. Do not use fertilizers that contain phosphorus.
Bloom:Blooms consist of seed heads which form on the grass-like stalks.
Uses: Provides height and movement in the garden. Good choice for south exposure, tolerant of windy spots with minimal irrigation.
The Cape Province of South Africa, an area of 100 square miles at the tip of the continent, is a botanical wonderland. Two-thirds of the plants are endemic, meaning they occur nowhere else in the world. More than 8,550 species have been counted, twice as many as in California, which is four times larger.
The Restios are a major component of the vegetation of the plant community called the “Fynbos,” Afrikaans for “fine bush.” This refers to the fine, needle-like leaves of many of the plants in this community. Many species of these reed-like, leafless plants, some growing from spreading underground rhizomes, others from tussocks, appear like a hybrid mixture of grass, bamboo, rush and horsetail. The culms, or stems, some as high as 9 feet in height, in shades of color from pale grayish-blue through every variety of green to silver gray, bring color and structure to any garden.
Highly flammable, restios regenerate from their underground tubers or tussocks after wild fires. They have traditionally been used by the South African people for roof thatching that can last up to fifty years. Restios make a fine addition to our water wise gardens.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil, Profile Contributor: Fred Bové