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Scientific: Muhlenbergia lindheimeri
Common: big muhly
Family: Poaceae
Origin: Riparian habiats in the Edward's Plateau region of Texas

Pronounciation: Muh-len-BER-gee-a lind-he-ir-MER-i

Hardiness zones
USDA 7-11

Landscape Use: This is a large specimen grass planted either individually or in groups as an accent in large landscape planters, rock gardens, transitional landscapes. Best used when viewed from a distance.

Form & Character: Light, breezy, airy, suggesting movement of air, has a cooling, softening effect in the landscape.

Growth Habit: Large, perennial bunch grass clumping to 3 to 5 feet in height with equal spread

Foliage/Texture: Dense tufts of narrow, linear dull gray-green to bluish green leaves from 1.5- to 6-feet long and only 1/8-inch wide; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Erect whip-like flower spike panicles to several feet long that sometimes tower (up to 6 feet in height) over the foliage, pinkish when immature and young to tan and gray when mature and senescing. Seeds of Muhlenbergia are extremely small, ie. 2.5 million per pound.

Seasonal Color: Flowering during late summer, autumn into early winter even when its dormant.

Temperature: Tolerant

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant of calcareous to alkaline soil (good news for Phoenicians), well drained.

Watering: Tolerates some drought, though supplemental water applications will keep plants robust.

Pruning: Shear (only once per year in late winter) or burn to the ground in late winter or early spring to remove the copius production of thatch (dead and slow to decompose leaves because of the dry climate) and re-induce vigor.

Propagation: Division of larger clumps anytime or from seed collected in early winter.

Disease and Pests: None in central Arizona, though air-borne fungi infect foliage in moister climates.

Additional comments: This is a large bunch grass plant that is a good substitute for pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) or fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum). Big muhly is slightly larger than deer grass (Muhlenbergia rigens).

Some botanical history: The genus Muhlenbergia is named after Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst ("Henry") Muhlenberg (1753-1815) who was a German-educated Lutheran minister and is known as America's first outstanding botanist. He classified and named 150 species of plants in his 1785 work Index Flora Lancastriensis. The species lindheimeri is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) who is often called the Father of Texas Botany.