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  for JULY

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Products > Muhlenbergia asperifolia
Muhlenbergia asperifolia - Alkali Muhly
Image of Muhlenbergia asperifolia
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Grass
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae) (Grasses)
Origin: North America
California Native (Plant List): Yes
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Tan
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Height: 1-2 feet
Width: Spreading
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: < 0 F
Muhlenbergia asperifolia (Alkali Muhly) - A rhizomatous perennial grass with long slender solid stem culms that grow into thick clumps up to two feet tall or grows decumbent sprawling through or over other plants and bearing long narrow scabrous leaves. From early summer into fall appear at culm tips the open and wispy 6-inch-long inflorescences that have many hair-thin outstretched branches tipped by tiny spikelets.

Plant in full sun to part shade and irrigate infrequently. Hardy to at least 0 F. This is a very interesting grass that creates a dense groundcover or sprawls over and around other plants with the open panicles of flowers catching light in a very attractive manner. We like it for its ornamental qualities, but it is also a valuable grass for habitat restoration and revegetation projects in disturbed habitat in the Southwest US.

Muhlenbergia asperifolia is native to moist meadows, sandy washes, canyon bottoms, grassy slopes, rocky and sandy slopes and around seeps and hot springs from 180 to 10,000 feet in elevation in western North America from Canada south into Mexico. The German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber (1739-1810) named the genus for clergyman and botanist Gotthilf Heinrich (Henry) Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815) who was American born but returned to his ancestral Germany for schooling and later returned to America. The specific epithet is from the two Latin words 'asper', meaning "rough" and 'folia', meaning "leaf" in reference to the rough texture of this plant's leaves. It is this texture that also gives it the alternative common name Scratchgrass. We first encountered this grass while driving down Titus Canyon in Death Valley with the "Grassman" John Greenlee - it intrigued us then as it still does today. 

This information about Muhlenbergia asperifolia displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.