Pennisetum setaceum (Forssk.) Chiov.

Poaceae (Grass Family)


Fountaingrass is a ± densely clumped or tufted perennial growing to about 4' tall that was originally introduced from Africa and has become quite widespread and common in many southern California areas.  The numerous 8"-26" long blades are somewhat scabrous, and 1/4" wide.  The sheaths of the leaf blade are ciliate with tufts of white hair on the collar.  The flowers grow in a bristly, spikelike panicle that may be as long as 12"-14" and is typically pink or purplish.  The spikelets are up to 1/4" long and are either solitary or in fascicles of 2-6 surrounded by brownish bristles.  The lower glume is absent or minute, while the upper is less than .6x the spikelet length.  Each spikelet contains two florets.  The lower floret is usually sterile with no palea, and its lemma is 3-veined and has an acuminate tip.  The upper floret is fertile and about the same size. The bristles are plumose toward the base and form an involucre that falls away with the spikelet as a unit from the rachis.  It has been cultivated in California for its colorful bristly panicles, and may be seen in waste places and along roadsides at fairly low elevations, blooming from July to October.

Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Pennisetum 2) setaceum.
Pronunciation: pen-i-SEE-tum seh-TAY-see-um.
Click here for Botanical Term Meanings.