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Restio multiflorus

Restio multiflorus.
Restio multiflorus. / WIKIMEDIA
  • An architectural plant, Restio forms a fountain of arching stems tipped with brown seed heads

Restio is a genus of 88 species in the family Restioraceae which consists of annual or perennial rush-like flowering plants. It is a plant that has been around for millions (over 65) of years with remains found that date back to the Late Cretaceous period, before the southern continents had started to drift apart.

Restio multiflorus resembles horsetail (Equisetum) but unlike horsetail, which has a hollow stem and needs a lot of moisture, Restio has a solid stem and is resistant to drought. Its stiff, upright stems and attractive dark brown seed heads make it perfect for flower arranging both fresh and dried.

In the spring it will form a fluffy clump of bright-green, new growth then, as summer approaches, it will send up tall stems, up to one metre high, with dark brown flower bracts which are speckled with gold.

Restio multiflorus needs a hot, dry sunny climate to thrive. It tolerates poor soils and windy situations. Although drought resistant it will benefit from watering during the summer and if grown in a pot, an occasional liquid feed.

Dead or damaged stems should be removed regularly by cutting off close to the ground. Propagation can be carried out by dividing the rhizomous roots or by seed. To produce viable seed a male and a female plant are needed as Restios, like most rushes, are dioecious and depend on wind pollination.

Some species of Restio are used for thatching roofs or making brooms.