Delicate, weeping, and grass-like, Chlorophytum saundersiae, can be used to create a soft, meadow-like feel in almost any size garden.
Despite its appearance, is not a grass, and produces masses of small, white starry flowers through the summer months.
It also grows happily in sun or in the partial shade beneath trees.
Family: ASPARAGACEAE Asparagus family
Sub-family: Agavoideae Agave sub-family
- Chlorophytum – ‘chloros’ means green and ‘phyton’ plant, so ‘green plant’, not a very imaginative name.
- saundersiae – after Katherine Saunders (1824 – 1901), an energetic botanical artist and collector who lived and painted in KZN from 1854.
Common Names: Weeping anthericum (Eng), watergrass (Afr).
Features of Chlorophytum saundersiae
Forms clumps with long, weeping, grass-like leaves.
Size: 70 cm by 30 cm.
Stem and Bark: Stemless.
Thorns: No thorns
- Evergreen, may frost back in cold weather.
- The simple leaves long (50 cm) and narrow (1 cm), tapering to a pointed tip.
- The older leaves are arched away from the plant base.
The shape and long, narrow leaves of Chlorophytum saundersiae give the plants a soft, very grass-like, appearance.
The attractive small flowers of Chlorophytum saundersiae are white with yellow stamens.
- Small, white star-shaped flowers with yellow stamens, up to 2 cm wide.
- Borne on single or branched, long (70 cm), weeping inflorescences.
- Many flowers are borne along the inflorescence.
- The flowers open along the inflorescence progressively, the last been the terminal flower.
Colour: White with yellow stamens.
Flowering Months: Sep – Mar.
Fragrance: Not fragrant.
Fruit: The fruit is a small, ovoid capsule (1 cm).
Growing Chlorophytum saundersiae
In the Garden:
- This plant is a popular and useful groundcover for shady or sunny areas.
- Planted in mass to create a soft, meadow feel.
- Well suited as a border plant or to add atmosphere to a water feature or pond.
- Well suited to containers and planters, where their weeping habit is effective.
- A very good companion plant for Crocosmia, as they remain green after the Crocosmia leaves die back in winter.
Soil Needs: Most soil types given plenty compost.
- A low maintenance garden plant.
- May need to be cut right back after winter if looking untidy.
- Be aware that this plant seeds its self freely.
Cold Hardiness: Semi-hardy.
Water Requirements: Thrives on regular water in the summer months.
Light Requirements: Partial shade to full sun.
- 5 per square metre, plant plugs 20 cm apart.
Roots: Not aggressive.
The soft textures and gentle hues of Chlorophytum saundersiae can be used to create a calming ambience in a garden.
Although small, the flowers of Chlorophytum saundersiae are very elegant.
Ecology of Chlorophytum saundersiae
Chlorophytum saundersiae inflorescences are sometimes branched.
Chlorphytum saundersiae makes a good border to paving.
Birds: Insectivorous birds will forage among the plants.
Bees: Not an important honeybee food plant.
Butterflies and other Insects:
- Carpenter bees seem to be important pollinators.
- Adult butterflies and other insects do visit the flowers.
Medicinal: Not used medicinally
Notes of interest:
- Previously included in the genus Anthiricum.
- Found in the north-eastern EC, KZN, and Esw.
- Endemic to southern Africa (?).
- Coastal forests and grasslands.
Britannica “Chlorophytum” Link: https://www.britannica.com/plant/Chlorophytum
Britannica “List of plants in the family – Asparagaceae” Link: https://www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-plants-in-the-family-Asparagaceae-2075378
Honig, Marijke “Indigenous Plant Palettes” 2014 Quivertree Publications Cape Town
Joffe, Pitta & Oberholzer, Tinus “Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants, A South African Guide” 2nd ed. 2012 Briza Publications Pretoria
Johannsmeier, Anne “Chlorophytum saundersiae” 2013 Plantza, National Herbarium, Pretoria Link: http://pza.sanbi.org/chlorophytum-saundersiae
Pooley, Elsa, “A Field Guide to Wild Flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region” Natal Flora Publications Trust Durban
Wikipedia “Chlorophytum_comosum “ Link: org/wiki/Chlorophytum_comosum
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2021.