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Muhlenbergia arenacea (Ear muhly)
Juett, William

Muhlenbergia arenacea

Muhlenbergia arenacea (Buckley) Hitchc.

Ear Muhly

Poaceae (Grass Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Native to dry grasslands from Colorado to central Texas and south as far as Zacatecas in Mexico, this fine-leaved turf grass with airy flowers and seedheads has potential as a low-maintenance sod grass. It is normally 4 to 5 inches tall, occasionally reaching 14 inches, and can be mowed regularly.

The genus of this plant is named for Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815), also Heinrich Ludwig Muehlenberg, or Henry Muhlenberg, who was a German-educated Lutheran minister and the first president of Franklin College, now Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania. He is most famous due to his work in the field of botany. An accomplished botanist, chemist, and minerologist, Henry is credited with classifying and naming 150 species of plants in his 1785 work Index Flora Lancastriensis. Muhlenberg's work and collaboration with European botanists led to great advances in the study of plants and earned him the distinction as America's first outstanding botanist.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: 4 to 14 inches

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AZ , CO , NM , TX
Native Distribution: Colorado east to central Texas and south to Zacatecas.
Native Habitat: Prairies, plains, meadows, pastures, savannas, in desert grasslands and near streams.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Drought Tolerance: High
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, calcareous sand, loam, clay, or limestone


Use Ornamental: An easily grown, delicate-looking turf grass that can be mowed.
Use Wildlife: Nesting material
Interesting Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Clump Division , Root Division , Seeds
Description: Seed or root division during dormancy
Maintenance: Can be mowed regularly, but let it go to seed after seasonal rains before resuming mowing.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Muhlenbergia arenacea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Muhlenbergia arenacea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Muhlenbergia arenacea


Record Modified: 2022-10-07
Research By: TWC Staff

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