Tiger Grass

Tiger Grass plant

Tiger Grass

This striking plant from Thailand looks like bamboo but it’s actually a perennial grass. In Asia the large leaves are used to wrap food for steaming, and the flower heads are tied together and used as brooms.

Plant details

Common name: Tiger Grass
Botanic name: Thysanolaena maxima
Description: Perennial grass with stout culms to 3 metres (10′) tall, lance shaped leaves and fine plumes of purple flowers. It forms dense clumps and can be propagated by either seed or division.
Best climate: Tiger grass will grow in most areas of Australia, except for Hobart and the cold mountain zones. It is frost sensitive.

Best look:

  • attractive feature or screen plant
  • Thai or Balinese style garden
  • tropical garden
  • large pots

Good points:

  • handsome foliage
  • beautiful purple flowers
  • good non-weedy substitute for bamboo
  • tolerant of neglect


Be aware that tiger grass grows faster than most garden shrubs and will form a large clump (a 4 year-old clump can measure up to 1 metre (3′) at the base).


This plant will grow well in either full sun or part shade. It likes moist soils rich in organic matter, ample water and protection from frost.

Getting started:

Tiger grass is not readily available at nurseries, but you may like to try: Bamboo World (where we filmed our segment)
Murwillumbah Road
Wadeville via Kyogle, NSW, 2474.
Phone: (02) 6689 7214
Email: bamboo@nrg.com.au
Website: www.nrg.com.au/bamboo
Plants are available by mail order. Expect to pay $35 for a 200mm (8″) pot. Earthcare Enterprises
PO Box 500
Maleny, QLD, 4552.
Phone: (07) 5494 4666
Email: sales@earthcare.com.au
Website: www.earthcare.com.au
Bare rooted plants are available by mail order for $25 each, or you can visit the nursery by appointment.