I have a mystery plant in our front walkway and my cat is desperate to get to it.

I'd like to know what it is, but am most concerned about the safety issue, since she has managed to get to it twice already. I get her back quickly, but I would really like to know whether it is harmful.

I have picture of it below.

Plant in our front walkway

  • 1
    If you have no patch of longer lawn grasses available to the cat, buy some cat grass to grow - this Pennisetum is a bit too coarse for a cat to eat and may cause choking, but they do need to eat some grass periodically
    – Bamboo
    Aug 16, 2017 at 10:54
  • Hi SevExpar! I don't let my cats out, but am always concerned about poisoning the neighborhood roamers, so I did a bit of research in addition to Bamboo's. Looking at Plants has some information about the plant, and at the bottom is a list of very reputable and well-known organizations, at least in America, none of which list this as toxic to cats. I hope that helps! Aug 16, 2017 at 18:57
  • I am so glad you keep your cats indoors. When they are allowed out of doors they become everyone's cat. Cats live twice as long when indoor cats!. The family of plants that really need to be watched for concerning toxicity to cats is the lily family; Hemerocallis or day lily, Cala Lily, Iris of all types...somehow cats are attracted to these plants as well. petmd.com/cat/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/e_ct_lily_poisoning
    – stormy
    Aug 16, 2017 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


I suspect this grass belongs to the genus Pennisetum. Pennisetum setaceum is a likely candidate; this species is an ornamental grass which is now considered a weed in many parts of Australia (and the US too I believe) and can no longer be sold. Another ornamental species with deep red/ purple leaves was previously sold as Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum' but is now considered to be Pennisetum advena. Many members of the genus Pennisetum have been transferred to Cenchrus, however according to The Plant List both Pennisetum setaceum & P. advena are accepted names. http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-432944


As for toxicity to your cats, assuming my ID is correct, I believe it should be quite safe, although I did find one post on a forum where someone described their cat nearly choking after eating some grass. Pennisetum advena is commonly known as Purple Fountain Grass which is presumably the species referred to in these links:




I think yes. It is a Poaceae, possibly something in the Poa setaria group.

Usually grasses have not venomous. This plant, like many other grasses are cespitose (tufted) because they are eaten by animals. So instead of survive/evolve by venom or thorns, they survive by making strong root and grow again and again.

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