What is Monkey Grass?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Monkey grass, or ophiopogon japonicus, is a type of grass that is usually utilized as a border in yard landscaping projects. However, monkey grass is also used in herbal medicine as well. Characterized by linear leaves that flow gracefully upward then turning back toward the ground, monkey grass is an evergreen plant that holds up well in a wide range of climates and is relatively inexpensive to purchase and install.

Man mowing the grass
Man mowing the grass

Also known as mondo grass, monkey grass is native to the country of Japan. In the United States and other places around the world, the grass is valued as a simple but effective design element in landscaping yards and gardens. A typical application of monkey grass is as a means of creating a border along walkways leading from the driveway to the front door of the home. The thick dark green leaves provide a shade that works well with the sod used for the lawn and helps to establish a harmonious transition from the brick or concrete of the walkway to the lush green of the lawn.

Another common use for monkey grass is as a border along flowerbeds. Often, the grass is preferable to the use of other elements to establish the border, in that the monkey grass never needs painting or repairs. The grass is easy to maintain and can be used to create borders around beds that are just about any shape or size. Because monkey grass is an evergreen plant, the border will remain dressed even in cold weather, making it possible for the homeowner to fill the bed with different types of flora that are appropriate for the time of year.

Along with ornamental uses, monkey grass is also considered an important herb in Chinese herbal medicine. The grass is said to be ideal for correcting a deficiency in the yin and therefore helping to restore balance to the body. Ingesting the herb is said to provide nourishment for the lungs and heart, ease the pains associated with the stomach, and will reduce the irritability that arises when the systems of the body are not operating in harmony with one another.

One of the most appealing aspects of monkey grass is that the plant grows quickly and remains hardy in a variety of weather conditions. The plant can easily survive in hot humid weather during the summer months and do equally well in dry and cold conditions in winter. Once in place, monkey grass requires very little in the way of maintenance, making it possible to devote more attention to other facets of the overall landscape of the yard.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


I have a daughter who asked the very same question this morning. Where did monkey grass get its name?


My question was how did monkey grasss get it's name? I got a history of monkey grass rather than how it got its name! Can you help me? I assured my grandchild that all he had to do was google his question and he would get an answer or comments.

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