Restio quadratus is a tall reed-like plant with a spreading
habit. The mature stems (culms) are thick and square in shape with
clusters of sterile branches at the nodes. The young culms look
very attractive with dark green, soft and fluffy looking foliage.
The latin species name of quadratus refers to the very distinctive
thick, square stem. The common name of 'vlakteriet' refers to the
large plains or 'vlaktes' where this species grows in damp localities,
often near seeps. Even though most restios adapt very well to a
regime with little or no watering during summer, Restio quadratus
has to have regular water to look at its best.
This is a plant for large gardens because the plants are not only
tall, up to 2 m in height, but can also easily attain a diameter
of 1.5 m at ground level. The stems are upright and slightly curved
at the top, where most of the clusters of sterile branches are situated.
The flowers are small and white but the female plants provide more
of a show than most restios, as they flower profusely for a short,
concentrated time in July or August. This species is wind pollinated
and releases a large quantity of pollen during the flowering period.
The mature plants of Restio quadratus look very similar
to Calopsis paniculata,
but can easily be distinguished by the square stems.
These two species, although from two different genera, do not only
look very similar with their spreading habit and nearly the same
height, but also flower and fruit at more or less the same time.Apart
from the stems, the other big difference is in the shape of the
seed. C. paniculata seed is a very small nut in an indehiscent
ovary, whereas the seed of R. quadratus is much larger, a
small, barrel-shaped, dark brown nut, dropping out of the inflorescence
as soon as it is ripe.
If Restio quadratus has any economic value, it would be
as material for making brooms. The long, feathery stems are an attractive
dark green in colour and could be used in the cut foliage industry.
The species is valuable in its function as a soil binder in the
seepage areas in the mountains, where it protects the catchment
Growing Restio quadratus
The plants are best grown from seed, which should be treated with
smoke or 'Instant Smoke Plus' seed primer. The seeds have a good
rate of germination. This species grows best in a position in full
sun, in a well-drained but moist soil and needs plenty of air movement
around it. When the plants are grown in light shade they look quite
attractive, stay smaller and very feathery and do not produce much
seed. The plants adapt to a large variety of soil types.
The best time for planting restios is at the beginning of the rainy
season, as the plants need regular watering during the first six
weeks to two months after planting. The plants need a normal garden
watering regime and are not suitable for dry gardens. They may be
fed with standard seaweed-based organic fertilizers, or by sprinkling
the surrounding soil with a small amount of ammonium sulfate during
the growing season. When the stems are three years old, they start
dying down and should be removed at ground level. This is the only
maintenance required, the plants should not be pruned back by shortening
the stems, as this weakens the plants.
- DORRAT-HAAKSMA, E.& LINDER, H. P. 2000. Restios of the
Fynbos. The Botanical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.L
- LINDER, H.P. 1985. Conspectus of the African species of Restionaceae.
Bothalia 15: 387-503.
- LINDER, H.P. 1991. A review of the southern African Restionaceae.
Contributions from the Bolus Herbarium 13.
- LINDER, H.P. April 2001. The African Restionaceae. Contributions
from the Bolus Herbarium 20 (on CD Rom).
- BROWN, N., JAMIESON, H. & BOTHA, P. 1998. Grow restios.
Kirstenbosch Gardening Series, National Botanical Institute, Cape