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Ophiopogon japonicus


Ophiopogon japonicus (Thunb.) Ker Gawl.

Family Name: Asparagaceae
Synonyms: Convallaria japonica Thunb., Liriope gracilis (Kunth) Nakai, Mondo japonicum (Thunb.) Farw., Mondo stolonifer (H.Lév. & Vaniot) Farw., Ophiopogon argyi H.Lév., Ophiopogon gracilis Kunth, Ophiopogon merrillii Masam., Ophiopogon stolonifer H.Lév. & Vaniot
Common Name: Dwarf Lilyturf, Mondo Grass, 麥冬

Ophiopogon japonicus or Dwarf Lilyturf is a short grass-like herb that grows to 30 cm tall. The leaves are dark green in colour, linear, 20 - 40 cm long, about 0.5 cm wide. Flowers are small, bell-shaped, pale lilac to white, borne on an inflorescence. It produces round to elliptic fruits that are cobalt blue in colour measuring less than 1 cm wide. This compact herb is a suitable as a groundcover or grass substitue due to its low maintenance and turf-like nature.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Plant Shape Grassy
Maximum Height 0.3


Native Distribution Central & South China to Vietnam, Eastern Asia to Philippines
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Inland Cliff, Mountain, Temperate Forest)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a short grass-like herb that reaches to 30 cm tall, it has rhizomes that are short or poorly developed.
Foliage Its leaves are narrow, linear, with a round to sharp tip. The dark green leaves are 20 - 40 cm long, about 0.5 cm wide.
Flowers Its flowers are borne on a raceme inflorescene. Each inflorescence have between 10 - 15 small, bell-shaped flowers. The 6 petalled flowers are pale lilac to white in colour, partially hidden within the foliage held on a flowe stalk measuring at 10 - 35 cm long.
Fruit Its fruits are berry-like, cobalt blue in colour measuring less than 1 cm wide. Each fruit bears up to 6 seeds that are round to elliptic, 4 mm long.
Others - Plant Morphology It has underground stolons or runners which creates a turf-like appearance.
Habitat Found in shaded damp grounds of lowlands, foothills and slopes, along streams, mossy forest, dense scrub in ravines, and cliffs at elevations from 200 - 2,800 m.
Cultivation Prefer for sandy soils but does well in any moist, fertile, well-drained soil. This species is salt tolerant and can be grown as a submerged aquatic plant.
Etymology The genus, Ophiopogon is derived from the greek words, Ophis meaning snake and Pogon meaning beard. The species epithet, japonicus refers to its native habitat, Japan

Landscaping Features

Landscape Uses Groundcover, Parks & Gardens, Riverine, Slope Stabilization, Coastal, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, Full Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Moist Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Propagation Method Division, Stolon / Runner, Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Basal
Foliar Attachment to Stem Sessile
Foliar Venation Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Runner / Stolon
Root Type

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers , Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White, Purple
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Radial
Individual Flower Shape Campaulate / Bell-shaped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Blue
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type Fleshy Fruit , Fleshy Fruit



Jessop, J.P. (1979). Flora Malesiana - Series 1, Spermatophyta, 9(1), 189-235.

Nesom, G.L. (2010). Overview of Liriope and Ophiopogon (Ruscaceae) naturalized and commonly cultivated in the USA. Phytoneuron 2010-56: 1–31.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (continuously updated). Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed 5 November 2021.

Missouri Botanical Garden (continuously updated). Missouri Botanical Garden – Plant Finder. Accessed 5 November 2021

North Carolina Cooperative Extension (continuously updated). North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.  Accessed 5 November 2021

Image Repository



Master ID 34129
Species ID 8542
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 05 November 2021.