Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Hilaria belangeri

Curly mesquite grass, Curly mesquite

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Hilaria belangeri (Curly mesquite grass)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

There are very few drought-tolerant turf grasses with lawn potential native to North America. The best known ones are Buffalograss (Bouteloua dactyloides), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and Curly Mesquite Grass. Curly Mesquite Grass likely falls between the other two in drought tolerance, less drought tolerant than Blue Grama, more drought tolerant than Buffalograss. It is not marketed as a lawn grass as much as the other two, as it has a rougher-looking texture, but it can be used to lay a solid turf in rural settings within its range. In the wild, it can sometimes be found growing with Buffalograss in well-drained clay loam, where it colonizes densely by stolons. Its name comes from the way the leaves curl up when it goes dormant and because it is often found in mesquite (Prosopis species) savannahs. Its natural range is from central Texas west to Arizona and south to Nuevo Leon.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Leaf Pubescence: Pilose
Inflorescence: Spike
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to 6 inches tall
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: This grass occasionally blooms from March to November but normally doesnt start blooming until summer. The flowers (florets) of grasses are usually minute and therefore not visible to the naked eye.


Native Distribution: Central Texas west to Arizona, south to Nuevo Leon
Native Habitat: Dryish shortgrass prairies and savannahs, caliche soils and hardpan clay sites.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained sand, loam, clay, or caliche. Prefers clay loam.
Conditions Comments: More drought-tolerant than Buffalograss, but does go dormant in extreme droughts and in winter.

Last Update: 2011-04-29