Lomandra is a perennial grass-like herb that is native to most parts of Australia. It was once considered part of the Xanthorrhoaceae or Black Boy family. In more recent years, however, the lomandra was given its own family, the Lomandraceae. It is also sometimes given a place in the Laxmanniaceae family when it is combined with the cordyline plant.
The lomandra plant typically grows from 3 to 4 feet (91.44 to 121.92 cm) in height and has long, narrow, green, lance-shaped leaves that grow from a central stem-less base. It produces tiny fragrant yellow to yellowish-tan flowers that grow in tight clusters on tall spikes. The fragrance of the flowers is sometimes thought to smell similar to a pineapple.
This type of plant is dioecous, meaning that the male and female flowers grow on separate plants. The name lomandra comes from the Greek words loma and andros, which translate to margin and male. This name is actually a reference to the circular margins of the plant’s anthers.
When used in landscaping, mat rush is often considered the more common name for lomandra. These plants were given the name mat rush because the Aboriginal people of Australia once used the leaves from the plants to weave mats. The Lomandra longfolia breeze or dwarf mat rush is often the most popular species seen in landscaping because of its unique look and more compact growth habits. It is sometimes also called the longleaf mat rush.
Since mat rush is very drought-tolerant, it is often recommended for use in xeriscaping, because it can survive for long periods of time without supplemental water. It prefers light shade, but will tolerate full sun and can grow in almost any type of soil. During periods of little rain, the plant does not typically die. Instead, it will simply stop growing to conserve its energy until the water condition improves.
Although the plants will initially look somewhat unsightly, lomandra can be cut back in size to small, compact mounds that are as little as 6 inches (about 15.2 cm) in height. This trimming is generally done to remove older foliage and clean up the overall appearance of the plants when they are older, because they sometimes take on a slightly weedy appearance as they age. When lomandra is trimmed back, it usually recovers quite rapidly. New growth sprouts quite quickly and is established in as little as three weeks.