Ophiopogon, commonly known as mondo grass or lilyturf, is a genus of evergreen perennial plants in the Asparagaceae family, comprising about 50 species. These plants are native to East, Southeast, and South Asia, from Japan and China south to Thailand and Vietnam.
Size: Ophiopogon displays a grass-like growth habit, forming dense, clumping mounds of slender, arching leaves. They typically range from 2 to 12 inches (5-30 cm) in height, with some species spreading up to 12 inches (30 cm) wide.
Flowers and fruits: The plants produce small, bell-shaped flowers during the summer. These blooms can be white, pink, or lavender and are often followed by shiny, berry-like fruits that can add additional interest to the garden.
Hardiness: Ophiopogon species are generally hardy from USDA zones 6 to 11, and they prefer part shade to full shade conditions.
Uses: Mondo grass is a popular choice in landscaping for its versatility and low maintenance requirements. It’s frequently used as a ground cover in rock gardens, borders, or under shrubs and trees. Some species, like Ophiopogon japonicus (dwarf mondo grass), are even used as a lawn alternative. The striking Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens,’ or black mondo grass, with its nearly black leaves, is especially valued for adding contrast to the garden.
One key fact is that while slow to establish, once settled, these plants can spread effectively and form a lush carpet of green.