To most people, this native of India doesn't look like a grass at allits deeply pleated, swordlike leaves, 13 feet long and 25 inches wide, more closely resemble the foliage of cast-iron plant (Aspidistra) or the expanding young fronds of a palm. The leaves arch gracefully from a central crown to form a large mound. In south Florida, clumps can grow 810 feet tall and wide; where frosts occur (but the ground doesn't freeze), they reach about 3 feet tall and wide. Cylindrical greenish flower spikes appear above the foliage in summer but are not particularly showy. Leaves of 'Rubra' have purplish midribs; 'Variegata' features white-edged foliage, burgundy stems, and reddish flower spikes.
In the garden, the coarse foliage of palm grass is an excellent foil for smaller or thinner leaves. The plant makes a fine container subject and also looks good as an understory plant in woodland gardens. Tolerates drought but looks better with regular moisture. Be careful where you plant it; palm grass self-sows aggressively and can become a pest.