cat’s tail, noun phrase

Forms:
Also catstail, cat tail.
Origin:
EnglishShow more Transferred use of general English cat’s tail a name applied to various plants (some of which also occur in South Africa); so named from a supposed resemblance of parts of the plant to the tail of a cat.
1. In full cat’s tail grass: either of two grasses of the Poaceae, Sporobolus pyrimidalis (subfamily Chloridoideae) or Imperata cylindrica (subfamily Panicoideae).
1955 A.W. Bayer in D. Meredith Grasses & Pastures 549Eragrostis-Sporobolus grassland is now widespread, especially in the savanna country...The dominant species are Sporobolus pyramidalis (Catstail Grass), [etc.].
1955 J.D. Scott et al. in D. Meredith Grasses & Pastures 604Sour Veld...Fallow Lands:..Sporobolus pyramidalis Catstail.
1982 Fox & Norwood Young Food from Veld 296Imperata cylindrica,..Common names: English — bedding grass, cat tail, cottonwool grass, silver speka.
1991 G.E. Gibbs Russell et al. Grasses of Sn Afr. 311Sporobolus pyramidalis..Catstail grass.
2. Any of several shrubs of the Selaginaceae, especially the dune shrublet Hebenstreitia integrifolia.
1966 C.A. Smith Common Names 190Cat’s tail, Several species of Hebenstreitia (Nat),..Setaria verticillata (Cape),..Typha capensis (Nat)...The vernacular name is derived from the appearance of the elongated cylindrical inflorescences.
1982 A. Moriarty Outeniqua Tsitsikamma 166Hebenstreitia integrifolia Cat-Tail,..A compact much branched plant up to 600mm high...Numerous terminal spikes of small white flowers, each with an orange splash on the lower petal, make this a pleasing shrublet of the dune veld, from Herold’s Bay to Humansdorp and in the grassveld of the Langkloof.
3. Any of several species of Bulbinella of the Liliaceae, especially B. catifolia.
1985 Fair Lady 3 Apr. 139Bulbinella or Catstail — these brilliant little yellow torches bloom in late winter.
[1988 Le Roux & Schelpe Namaqualand 36Bulbinella Catifolia,..This plant name has changed from Bulbinella floribunda...There are about 16 species of Bulbinella in southern Africa.]
1991 S. Afr. Panorama Jan.Feb. 39The descriptive flower names are like music to the ear. There are button flowers, Hottentot’s cabbage,..cat’s tail, desert rose and many more...Orange cat’s tail (Bulbinella floribunda) colour the hills at Nieuwoudtville. Yellow cat’s tail also grown in the area while white and pink ones occur in the Biedouw Valley.
1992 C. Curzon in Motorist Aug. 6 (caption)Cat’s-tail (Bulbinella) on the bank of a dam.
either of two grasses of the Poaceae, Sporobolus pyrimidalis (subfamily Chloridoideae) or Imperata cylindrica (subfamily Panicoideae).
Any of several shrubs of the Selaginaceae, especially the dune shrublet Hebenstreitia integrifolia.
Any of several species of Bulbinella of the Liliaceae, especially B. catifolia.
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19551992