The short answer is no, monkey grass seeds are not poisonous, although you may read on the internet that they are poisonous. But first things first: Monkey grass is a term used for several plants, so it's best to use a botanical name if you can.
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Monkey grass, a term used for several plants including grasses in different genera, has not been reported to be toxic — not the leaves, flowers, or resulting seeds.
What Is Monkey Grass?
Monkey grass is a confusing moniker. This clumping grass is colloquially used to refer to two different plants from different genera, albeit that they look an awful lot alike. It usually refers to either Liriope muscari, also called lilyturf, or Ophiopogon japonicus, which is also known as mondo grass or dwarf lilyturf. Monkey grass can also refer to a different liriope, Liriope spicata.
Among the various monkey grasses, Liriope spicata is considered an invasive plant. Other than being called monkey grass, this species is also called creeping lilyturf and for good reason: It spreads quickly through its underground root system. All of these varieties are tough plants with attractive, evergreen blades.
Growing Monkey Grass and Other Clumping Varieties
Monkey grass, mondo grass, or lilyturf — all clumping grasses that look similar and have similar characteristics —are resilient landscape plants that can handle more shade than other grasses. In fact, you can even plant both Liriope and Ophiopogon japonicus in deep shade under trees where no other grass will grow. Both plants grow from 10 to 18 inches high with a similar spread, although Ophiopogon japonicus can eventually spread to 3 feet, growing at a slow rate.
These grasses are valued for their use in garden borders, as ground covers, in rock gardens, and in other locations where a hardy evergreen plant might work. Ophiopogon japonicus prefers a sandy soil, while the Liriope species can grow in either sand or clay.
Plant these mounding grasses about 1 foot apart. As they grow larger, you can dig them up and separate them to create new plants, usually every three or four years. In late winter, mow them with your lawn mower at its highest setting so that the new year will start with fresh leaves. Be careful to protect the plants' crown and work with sharp mower blades.
Are Monkey Grass Seeds Poisonous?
You might find in an internet search that monkey grass seeds are poisonous, but there are no studies to corroborate this. You might have read that pet owners believe their dogs or cats were poisoned by the plant, but again, there is no proof of this. Pets do frequently eat grass and vomit afterward. It's unlikely that if they have eaten monkey grass — either the blades or the seeds if the plant has finished flowering — that their reaction would be any different than eating more common lawn grasses.
Some sources report that Ophiopogon japonicus has various medicinal properties, in particular the roots, which inhibit the growth of bacteria and aid in the treatment of various ills, including dry coughs, fever, constipation, and insomnia.
As for the two Liriope species, Liriope seeds and other plant parts are not poisonous but may cause stomach upset if large amounts are eaten, as would most plants.