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.].
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.
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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