Muhlenbergia lindheimeri Hitchc.
Lindheimer's Muhly, Lindheimer Muhly, Big Muhly, Blue Muhly
Poaceae (Grass Family)
USDA Symbol: muli
Muhlenbergia lindheimeri is a 2-5 ft. perennial bunchgrass with fine foliage and a fountain-like form. Seedheads are silvery.
Native from the Edwards Plateau of central Texas south to northern Mexico, Big muhly or Lindheimer's muhly has become increasingly popular since the 1980s as an elegant, large-scale specimen grass, large enough for screening. It can be a soft-textured substitute for introduced Pampas grass, which it approaches in stature. Its blue-green leaves and lacy autumn panicles grace live oak (Quercus fusiformis) savannahs and limestone outcrops within its natural range.
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.
The species is named after Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879) who is often called the Father of Texas Botany because of his work as the first permanent-resident plant collector in Texas. In 1834 Lindheimer immigrated to the United States as a political refugee. He spent from 1843-1852 collecting specimens in Texas. In 1844 he settled in New Braunfels, Texas, and was granted land on the banks of the Comal River, where he continued his plant collecting and attempted to establish a botanical garden. He shared his findings with many others who shared his interest in botany, including Ferdinand von Roemer and Adolph Scheele. Lindheimer is credited with the discovery of several hundred plant species. In addition his name is used to designate forty-eight species and subspecies of plants. He is buried in New Braunfels. His house, on Comal Street in New Braunfels, is now a museum.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Normally 2-5 ft high
Leaf: Light grey-green to light blue-green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Panicles 15-45 cm long
Fruit: Greyish to whitish
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Inflorescence varying from an open, diffuse panicle to loosely or tightly contracted spike-like, usually 1 flowered.
Native Distribution: Edwards Plateau of central Texas south to Durango, Coahuila, and Nuevo Leon in northern Mexico
Native Habitat: Limestone uplands near streams. On limestone outcrops, often close by small streams. Well-drained sand, loam, clay, limestone.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky, limestone soils. Limestone-based, Calcareous, Clay, Clay Loam
BenefitUse Ornamental: Useful as a large specimen grass for full sun.
Use Wildlife: Fair to good forage for livestock and wildlife. Leaves provide nesting material for birds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Deer Resistant: High
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Seed Collection: Collect seed in December.
Seed Treatment: Germinates well, grows fast.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: The foliage persists through the winter, though most of it will be dormant. Not necessary to cut back during the cold months; if you do, it may be slow to recover. To keep tidy looking, break off old flower stalks when they become brittle and "comb" the plant with a leaf rake to remove dead leaves.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
NPSOT - Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
Nueces River Authority - Uvalde, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 293 - Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas (1979) Correll, D. S. & M. C. Johnston
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
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
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Muhlenbergia lindheimeri in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Muhlenbergia lindheimeri in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Muhlenbergia lindheimeri
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-12-08
Research By: TWC Staff, MAC, GDG