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Setaria megaphylla

Family: Poaceae

Common names: Broad-leaved bristle grass (E);

Native to: Southern Africa
Grass, Shrub
A large, hardy, shade-loving species ideal for the bird-friendly garden

Setaria megaphylla

EVERGREEN

FULL SUN

SEMI-SHADE

SHADE

SEMI FROST HARDY

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

FAST GROWER

ATTRACTS BIRDS

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

1.5m x 1.5m

MAXIMUM SIZE:

2.5m x 2.5m
FLOWERING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D
FRUITING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Setaria megaphylla

DESCRIPTION

Setaria megaphylla is a large, shade-loving grass that occurs naturally in the eastern half of Southern Africa. It prefers moist, semi-shade to shade areas but will survive (and often thrive) in sunny areas of the garden. The strap-like leaves can grow up to 100m wide and 800mm long, and depending on conditions the plant can become quite dense, and therefore useful as a low-screening plant, or to cover bare walls in shady gardens. Flowering can occur anytime from September to June, but most often in the autumn months from February to May. The inflorescence is an open or contracted panicle with a loose central axis, and can be up to 600mm long. The grass is palatable and grazers, and even pets (especially dogs), enjoy eating the leaves of younger plants. It is one of the most useful plants to have in a wildlife-friendly garden as it attracts numerous seed-eating birds – often species that are not normally attracted to wild bird seed.

NATURAL HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Forest margins, moist woodland and watercourses
WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
One of the best plants for the bird-friendly garden as the seed is popular with canaries, mannikins and finches, to name a few. Weavers strip the leaves to use for nesting material.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Although Setaria is a moisture-loving species, once established it tends to do well in water-wise gardens and can survive extended periods of drought
MAINTENANCE
Setaria grows quickly, especially when planted in full sun, and care should be taken to ensure it has been planted in the correct space so it does not overrun surrounding plants. This grass also readily self-seeds. Like most grasses it can be cut back near the end of winter – or once it has finished seeding – to allow for new growth
LANDSCAPING USES
Use as a foliage (grass-like) contrast in shrubby borders, or as a low (1-2m) screening plant for shady areas. Ideal for bird-friendly gardens. It can be mass planted in largers gardens, but for smaller gardens one may only be able to use one or two specimens, unless the plants are used in planters.
GARDEN THEMES
Bushveld, Forest, Grassland, Water, Woodland
FOLIAGE
SEED
CULTIVATION
Best acheived by division of the large rootstock, or by transplanting young seedlings when the plant self-seeds in the garden.
FURTHER READING

Van Oudtshoorn, Frits., 2018, Guide to Grasses of Southern Africa, Third Revised Edition, Britza Publications, ISBN: 978-1-920217-35-8

ONLINE REFERENCES & RESOURCES

http://pza.sanbi.org/setaria-megaphylla

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