This tactile grass is producing soft mounds of plume-like panicles on the Systematic Beds.
The grass family (Poaceae) includes over 500 genera, of which Pennisetum is just one. It contains 120 rhizomatous or stoloniferous species from woodland and savannah in tropical, sub-tropical and warm-temperate zones. P. villosum is one of the more horticulturally valuable species from the mountains of north-eastern tropical Africa. Intolerant of extreme cold and wet, it is a clump-forming perennial, which enjoys a sunny position in well-drained soil. In late summer a froth of soft, feathery panicles, which give rise to the common name feathertop, are produced from a mass of arching, narrow leaves. P. villosum brings welcome soft texture to a planting scheme, and is renowned for its tactile nature.