Gondwanaland Trading Company
From the Ends of the Earth, to the Beginning of Time!

Chondropetalum elephantinum

We were in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa hiking through an expanse of marshy terrain. It was cool and breezy and the Chondropetalum elephantinum (Large Cape Rush) rustled in the breeze. All of a sudden we were surrounded by dozens of bright red Dragonflies which flew in formation over the dunes! We were literally enveloped by scores of darting, diving and zigzagging hunters attacking the small flying insects hovering above us. It was a wonderful experience to be in the middle of this primeval feeding frenzy! We later collected seeds from Chondropetalum elephantinum which forms dense, tufted clumps from which 4 foot tall, vertical dark green stems radiate dramatically upwards. Its dark brown sheaths at the joints drop off in summer leaving a dark band at each node. Late in the season the stems arch gracefully from the weight of clusters of small brown flowers at the tips. Male and female plants have remarkably similar flowers but the female flowers are held tighter and are clustered toward the tip of the stems. This plant does best in full sun and is drought tolerant but appreciates supplemental water in spring. It is hardy to about 20-25 degrees F and tolerates a wide soil pH range. In its natural habitat Chondropetalum elephantinum grows close to the coast from Clanwilliam to Grahamstown South Africa often preferring marshy habitat. It can be successfully planted in seaside gardens or used in relatively dry landscapes. We sell this unusual plant in one gallon containers.