Fall Grasses

Many grasses bloom in the spring, but the fall blooming grasses are now visible. Grasses have flowers? Yes, but they don’t have colorful petals. Grasses do have pollen on their stamens and they have stigma (female pollen receptacle part of the flower), as do all flowering plants. Grasses are wind pollinated thus they do not need pollinators.

Some of my favorite native grasses that bloom in the fall are Lindheimer Muhly, Gulf Muhly, Little Bluestem and Sideoats Grama. These grasses are all deer resistant.

Lindheimer Muhly (Muhlemberia lindheimeri), also called Big Muhly, gets big enough to be used for screening. It is recommended as a native replacement for Pampas Grass, which is not native. A stand of Big Muhly is along HEB parking lot on 2325 not too far from the library entrance. It has reseeded itself in my yard.

Gulf Muhly (Muhlengergia capillaris) is commonly called Pink Muhly. There is a nice stand of it on the edge of the HEB parking lot near the gas station. This native perennial grass is frequently used in landscaping because of the lovely pink cloud of flower spikes it has in the fall. It does require some watering if no rain for 6 weeks.

Sideoats Grama ( Bouteloua curtipendula) was designated the state grass of Texas by the 62nd Legislature in 1971. It may bloom throughout the summer with its oat like spikelets on only one side of the stem. If you are lucky enough to see this grass in bloom, look closely for the bright red stamens.

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is noticeable because in late fall it turns mahogany-red and it remains that color all winter.

The final prevalent grass noticeable in the fall is King Ranch Grass (Bothriochloa ischaemum). It is NOT native and is considered an invasive species. If you are responsible for mowing, you know it as the grass that sends up its annoying seedheads 3 days after you mow! If left to seed it turns bright yellow in color.

 

Written by Jackie Mattice, Hays County Master Naturalist

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