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Setaria sphacelata


Water Needs

moderate; high

Setaria sphacelata
Golden Bristle Grass

1- 1.5 m


Light Conditions





golden summer October to May; spring summer autumn

Garden Situation

sun; clay soils; water feature; grassland; damp sun; paving; wildlife birds insects; butterfly host


grassland; wetland;


thicket; Highveld; subtropical east coast; bushveld savanna; western cape

Rain Season

summer; winter

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The Golden Bristle Grass adds long golden to orange-tinged panicles to the sunny landscape. Commonly known as the Golden Bristle Grass this robust tufted perennial grows to over 1 m in height with each flowering/ seeding panicle up to 25 cm long. S. sphacelata occurs in grasslands, woodlands, and along waterways, and as with many local grasses, it colonises disturbed areas like roadsides in high rainfall regions. The leaves are blue/green with an open, spreading leaf blade of about 50 cm long and 3 – 17 mm wide. The flowering stalk grows out of the sheath that covers this leaf blade, and panicles are made up of tiny clusters of golden yellow spikelets that make up the ‘bristles’ . Flowering takes place usually from October to May. Plants are propagated by seed found within the old flower spikelet's, light enough to be wind and water disbursed. Birds also spread the seed over their habitat range. In the garden: Golden Bristle Grass is a beautiful long lasting ornamental grass for the garden. Planted where they catch the setting sun the seed heads glow gold tinged with burnt orange. Plants seed themselves quite readily so may be too generous in small gardens. By winter, patches look quite untidy so may not be for all gardeners; for the wildlife gardener and birders, it is a must! There are 4 varieties of this species.

Setaria sphacelata
Setaria sphacelata
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