Pink Muhly Grass

Muhlenbergia capillaris

Poaceae - Grass Family

Pink muhly grass, also known as Hairy-awn muhly or Gulf muhly, is a perennial grass native to Florida, U.S.A. It is found widespread throughout the Eastern half of the United States, including New England, Virginia, and South Carolina, but it can also be found as far west as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.1 It grows approximately 1’-3’ tall and 3’ wide and lives in an extremely diverse range of habitats such as among flat woods, marshes, or dunes.1 It is distinguished by its array of tiny pink to light purple feathery flowers that bloom during the fall season until early winter. It is a very robust and hardy plant and has the ability to survive in conditions considered harsh for many other plants.2 It is drought tolerant and requires almost no care and can survive in a wide variety of soil types as long as they drain well.3 It is most effective when grown en masse because its bright pink hue can help accentuate the beauty of a garden.3 This plant also makes an excellent ground cover for areas with poor soils.3 Because of its late blooming period, it tends to stand out in gardens where most other plants are entering into hibernation.
Pink muhly grass is known to attract beneficial insects such as ladybug beetles.4 The clumping of its tall seed stalks and flowers makes it an outstanding cover for small animals.4 It grows most brilliantly with a maximum amount of sunlight and water, but it can survive with significantly reduced amounts of either of the two aforementioned sources of nutrients. With reduced sunlight and/or water, the Pink muhly will not grow to its largest potential size and its flowers’ hue will not be as rich.3 Pink muhly grass was historically important for making baskets, especially for harvesting rice.1

References and Useful Websites:
1Landscape Plants for South Florida
2Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - University of Texas
3Poulette, A. 2007. Organic Gardening 54:19-19
4Natural Resources Conservation Service - U. S. Department of Agriculture

This page was prepared by Brandon Parkinson, BIO 102, Fall 2011

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