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PlantFiles: Palm Grass, Whale Back
Curculigo capitulata

Family: Hypoxidaceae
Genus: Curculigo (ker-KYOO-lee-oh) (Info)
Species: capitulata (kap-it-yoo-LAH-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Molineria capitulata
Synonym:Leucojum capitulatum
Synonym:Curculigo recurvata
Synonym:Molineria recurvata

8 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure:
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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10 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive williamca On Feb 13, 2013, williamca from Plant City, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This plant has been in my garden for over 20 years. Each Spring the cold damaged leaves are removed and suckers pulled up to re-establish the basic planting. Otherwise it is a trouble-free plant and will always be in my garden. Its flower habit is the same as Aspidistra so I wonder if one or the other plants are properly classified.

Positive jeri11 On Nov 23, 2012, jeri11 from Central, LA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I've had this plant for over 15 years and absolutely love it. I live in zone 9A and this plant will usually die back to the ground in the winter but comes right back in the spring. The flowers on my plants are very insignificant but the leaves add a lush topical look to any flower bed.

Neutral abken On Jul 13, 2010, abken from New Orleans, LA wrote:

I have to rate this neutral because it is positively easy to grow from small transplants but negative because once you've got it YOU'VE GOT IT. Be warned: grow in a container or within a growth-restricting barrier. Old garden plant in the South, but few know what it is.

Positive Shazzoir On Feb 25, 2010, Shazzoir from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

I live in Brisbane, Queensland, which is partly in the sub-tropic zone in Australia. I had never seen these plants until I bought this house in 2000, and they were growing along the fence line in full sun. I loved them, and moved them to where I wanted, in the shade under a large tree. These plants are now over 1m tall, gloriously leafed and they flower at the base every year. I have never seen seeds, so they must propagate underground.

I have since found some growing as a weed at a friend's house - literally, they were growing underneath his house which is about two feet off the ground - and collected some more.

Great plants, I have some growing in full sun, others in full shade, others dotted around the gardens among other plants, and they are all thriving.

Positive trynfindit On Sep 8, 2008, trynfindit from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

The USDA hardiness zones given on this page are for 10a-11. I live in 9a (Jacksonville, FL) and this plant grows like crazy here. It usually dies back during the winter, but grows out again in the spring.

Positive leeboi76 On Sep 19, 2007, leeboi76 from Sydney
Australia wrote:

This plant is easy to grow in Sydney, Australia. Even with the occasional hard frost this grass comes back surging in the spring. I've found that a little morning sun works wonders in bringing out good color and better pleating effect in the leaves. Impossible to find in garden centers and shops I dug a few rhizomes up at a friends house and the easily took root. They look lovely under a large palm or citrus.

Positive whitewolfhowl On Jun 23, 2006, whitewolfhowl from Brisbane
Australia wrote:

Curculigo capitulate is supposed to be grown in shade here in Brisbane, Australia (our climate is similar to Florida) but I know of one grower who has it in full sun and it survives well. It is often found under palms in borders and along walkways at resorts further north from Brisbane (Sunshine coast).
I have never seen it in a suburban garden as I think it is not popular or well known here.

Positive ardesia On Nov 4, 2005, ardesia from Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a) wrote:

Does well for me in a container to "contain" the runners. If the temp drops below freezing the leaves may brown but it pops right back for me.

Positive joshz8a On Apr 22, 2005, joshz8a from z8a, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I grow this as a houseplant in winter, outside summer. Beautiful pleated foliage, very durable. Thrives in an eastern window and gets same care as Philodendron, Dracaena, Cordyline, etc. The color is a brighter green than most tropicals so makes a nice contrast. Never bothered by insects or any type disease. The flowers are well hidden and you really have to watch for them...the foliage is the main attraction. Leaves are about 45" tall/long and most stand up, a few curving over. Super nice plant! josh 8a

Neutral MotherNature4 On Jan 23, 2005, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I have been trying to identify this plant for a long time. It isn't in any of my many Florida plant books. It grows on shady, empty lots that never get watered. It has gone through several hard freezes that killed orange trees. It is tough, but is pretty good foliage for flower arrangements. I get all I need from shady streets.

Neutral Monocromatico On Mar 26, 2004, Monocromatico from Rio de Janeiro
Brazil (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant is easily coltivated in humid, warm places, tolerating both sun and shade. It propagates itself through its rhyzome quickly.

The foliage is pretty, but there are the yellow flowers on short inflorescences, close to the soil. People usually never notice it.

Although this is a beautiful plant, I have noticed its presence around the native vegetation here in Rio de Janeiro. Native from Asia, this plant has escaped from gardens and seems to start to become a danger...

Neutral TerriFlorida On Oct 1, 2003, TerriFlorida from Plant City, FL wrote:

This plant does make a good ground cover where soil is moist, but be warned, it suckers as any reliable ground cover does, and it WILL show up where you don't want it. It is also nearly impossible to remove once it pops up somewhere, without dislodging whatever it comes up through. If you choose to plant it, it is perfectly root hardy where hard frost occurs but the ground never freezes.

Positive cdr1972 On May 9, 2002, cdr1972 wrote:

Fairly hardy and can handle periods of drought. Makes a lovely "tropical" looking ground cover; looks best in mass plantings.

Positive Evert On Oct 18, 2001, Evert from Helsinki
Finland (Zone 4b) wrote:

Rarely cultivated tropical plant from tropical Asia (i.e., Malaysia, Thailand, Kampuchea and Indonesia.) It looks like a young palm, and it has young palm-like leaves. In Finland it's called kärsälilja ("snout lily") or sometime also vekkipalmu, or vekkihame, which means "pleat palm" or "pleated skirt". The smalle yellow flowers are ginger-like, non-scented, and appear near the soil.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Mobile, Alabama
Apopka, Florida
Bartow, Florida
Boca Raton, Florida
Cocoa, Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Miami, Florida
Naples, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Riverview, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Greenwell Springs, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana (2 reports)
Saint Helena Island, South Carolina
Brenham, Texas
Missouri City, Texas

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