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

 Native Plant Database

Melica nitens

Three-flower melic, Tall melicgrass, Threeflower melicgrass, Melicgrass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Melica nitens (Three-flower melic)
Strickland, Sam C.
Small florets, 2 or 3 in number, but 2 most common in the southern parts of its range, which dangle in loose panicles on the slender, arching stems of this 3-5 ft. grass. Leaf blades usually flattened. Spikelets longer than they are wide.

A very graceful-looking, rhizomatous, cool-season grass usually found in part-shade in savannahs and open woodlands. In the northern reaches of its range, it is called Three-Flower Melic, because its florets, appearing in spring, are in groups of three. Further south, including in Texas, the florets are most often in groups of two. However many there are, they are white and showy swaying above the spring green foliage. By summer, the grass has gone to seed, turning tan as the hot months progress. It is somewhat of a summer dormant and is often cut back in early fall, just before the next seasons growth begins. In the wild, it is associated with Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) and oak or juniper savannahs.

Image Gallery:

6 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Flower: Flowers in 4 to 10 inch heads
Fruit: White, tan
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AZ , AR , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , MD , MN , MO , NE , NM , NC , OH , OK , PA , TN , TX , VA , WV , WI
Native Distribution: PA to extreme s.e. MN & NE, s. to n. VA, w. NC, OK, TX, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon.
Native Habitat: Open woods; rocky grasslands; bluffs; alluvial flats

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky or sandy, acid or calcareous loams
Conditions Comments: The more sun it gets, the quicker it will turn brown and go dormant during hot, dry summers. The more moisture it gets, the more sun it can take.


Use Ornamental: An attractive, shade-loving grass with decorative flowers and seedheads, used as an accent or drift planting.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2010-01-05