Friday, November 11, 2016

Flower Friday: Nothing says fall in Florida like hairyawn muhly grass!

Hairyawn muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Photo by Bill Randolph

Hairyawn muhly is a robust, perennial, clump-forming grass that puts on a stunning fall display. Its flowers are pink to purplish-red and are born in conspicuous but delicate inflorescences. They are tiny but profuse. Leaf blades are flat and become narrow toward the tip. Stems are thin and glabrous. The fruit is a tiny caryopsis.

Hairyawn muhly occurs naturally in coastal grasslands, hammocks and strands, beach dunes, sandhills, and pine flatwoods.

The genus name Muhlenbergia honors German-American amateur botanist Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815).

Inflorescence close up. Photo by Mary Keim
: Poaceae (Grass family)
Native range: Nearly throughout
Click here to see where hairyawn muhly occurs naturally.
Hardiness: Zone 8a-11
Soil: Moist to dry, mildly acidic, sandy soil
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 1-4’+ tall, equally wide
Propagation: Seed
Garden tips: Hairyawn muhly is an excellent plant for most Florida landscapes. Its foliage is attractive all year, and its fall display of color is nothing short of spectacular. En masse, it produces a purplish-pink haze. It works well in mass and border plantings and also as a specimen plant. It is hardy, drought-tolerant and mildly salt-tolerant. It self-seeds and can maintain its population for many years. Hairyawn muhly’s clumping habit provides excellent cover for wildlife.

Plants are available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area. Seeds are often available from the Florida Wildflower Growers Cooperative.

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