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Despite its grass-like leaves, lilyturf is actually a member of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). The specific epithet planiscapus means 'flattened scape' and refers to the flattened flower-stalk of this species.

Ophiopogon planiscapus (lilyturf)

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description

Despite its grass-like leaves, lilyturf is actually a member of the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). The specific epithet planiscapus means 'flattened scape' and refers to the flattened flower-stalk of this species.

The cultivar Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' (also known as black lilyturf, black grass or black mondo grass) has blackish leaves and is a popular ornamental. This small but striking plant is often grown against a contrasting light background such as gravel or silvery foliage.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Ophiopogon planiscapus is native to central and southern Japan.

Description

Overview: An evergreen, clump-forming perennial with dense tufts of leaves growing from short rhizomes (underground stems).

Leaves: Grass-like, strap-shaped, deep green, 30-50 cm long and 4-6 mm wide.

Flowers: Small (6-7 mm long), nodding, bell-shaped, pale purple or white flowers are borne on 20-30 cm long, erect, flattened flower stalks (scapes) in summer.

Fruits: Round, fleshy, dull blue and 3-5 mm wide.

Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens': This cultivar has arching, blackish leaves, 20-30 cm long and small, purplish flowers followed by glossy, blackish fruits.

Uses

Lilyturf is a useful plant for providing ground cover and is also planted for erosion control.

The cultivar Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' is a popular ornamental that is grown for its dense tufts of blackish, grass-like leaves. The Royal Horticultural Society has given Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens' its prestigious Award of Garden Merit.

This species at Kew

Lilyturf can be seen growing in the Winter Garden at Wakehurst.

Pressed and dried specimens of Ophiopogon planiscapus are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. The details of some other species of Ophiopogon , including some images, can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

Distribution
Japan
Ecology
Woods and thickets in lowlands and foothills.
Conservation
Not assessed according to IUCN Red List criteria.
Hazards

None known.

[KSP]
Use
Ornamental.

Native to:

Japan

English
Lilyturf

Ophiopogon planiscapus Nakai appears in other Kew resources:

First published in Index Seminum (TI, Tokyo) 1919-1920: 33 (1920)

Accepted by

  • Iwatsuki, K., Boufford, D.E. & Ohba, H. (2016). Flora of Japan IVb: 1-335. Kodansha Ltd., Tokyo.
  • Ohwi, J. (1984). Flora of Japan (in English): 1-1067. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Huxley, A., Griffiths, M. & Levy, M. (eds) (1999). The New Royal Horticultural Society Dictionary of Gardening, Volume 3 (L to Q). Macmillan Reference, London.
  • Mabberley, D. J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Ohwi, J. (1965). Flora of Japan (in English). Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
  • World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (2010). Ophiopogon planiscapus. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Ohwi, J. (1984). Flora of Japan (in English): 1-1067. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0