Today is the day the American Lutheran Pastor and botanist Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg was made a member of the American Philosophical Society. He was always referred to by his second name Heinrich. The Muhlenberg family was a founding family of the United States, and Heinrich came from a long line of pastors. His father, Pastor Heinrich Melchior Mühlenberg, was known as the patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. His brother was a major in the Revolutionary War, and his other brother was a Congressman.
Muhlenberg’s personal journals are a treasure trove of his thoughts on botanical self-improvement. He would write:
"How may I best advance myself in the knowledge of plants?”
And, Muhlenberg would set goals and reminders to challenge himself, writing:
“It is winter, and there is little to do . . . Toward spring I should go out and [put together] a chronology of the trees; how they come out, the flowers, how they appear,. . . . I should especially [take not of] the flowers and fruit.”
The grass Muhlenbergia was named for Heinrich Muhlenberg.
Muhly grasses are beautiful native grasses. They offer two incredible strengths in their plant profile: drought tolerance and visual punch. Muhly grasses are easy-going, and they grow equally well in harsh conditions and perfectly manicured gardens.
The Muhly cultivar ‘White Cloud’ offers gorgeous white plumes. When the coveted Pink Muhly blooms, people often stop to inquire as to the name of the beautiful pink grass. Then, Lindheimer’s Muhly makes a fantastic screen, and Bamboo Muhly commands attention when it is featured in containers.
All Muhly grasses like well-drained soil and full sun. If you plant them in fall, be sure to get them situated and in the ground at least a month before the first frost.
And here’s an interesting side note: Muhlenberg also discovered the bog turtle. In 1801, the turtle was named Clemmys muhlenbergii in his honor.