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Liriope Liriope muscari

Previously known as:

  • Liriope exiliflora
  • Liriope gigantea
  • Ophiopogon muscari
Phonetic Spelling
lih-RYE-oh-pee mus-KAY-ree
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Lily turf is a broadleaf evergreen, herbaceous perennial that forms dense basal clumps of narrow, arching dark green leaves and is commonly seen in the home landscape as a groundcover or edging. The clumps of leaves measure 1 to 1.5 feet tall and equally as wide. In the late summer and early fall, it has erect small spike-like purple flowers that are 6 to 8 inches tall.  The flowers are followed by round, shiny black berries that remain through the winter months. Though it may resemble ornamental grass it is not a true grass. The roots are fleshy and tuberous. This plant is a member of the Asparagaceae (asparagus) family.

Lily turf is native to China, Taiwan, and Japan. The plant is usually found in forests, shady and moist areas, near ravines, and on slopes. 

The genus name, Liriope, honors a Greek woodland nymph named Liriope who was the mother of Narcissus. The specific epithet, muscari, means flowers resembling grape hyacinths.  

Lily turf requires acidic to neutral, well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. It will tolerate almost full shade but growth is slower and leaves are elongated. This plant needs to be sheltered from cold winds and frost-prone areas. It is drought and deer tolerant, moderately salt-tolerant, and can be used as a lawn alternative for lawns that receive occasional light foot traffic. 

In their first year, they will need regular watering to keep soils moist but once they are established they require very little supplemental irrigation. They are light feeders and benefit from a slow-release or organic fertilizer applied in the early spring. To maintain an attractive appearance, cut back tops each February before new growth begins. 

It is normally not necessary to propagate liriope plants as they are aggressive growers though this plant is less aggressive than Liriope spicata or creeping lily turf. Lily turf is grown in a clump form and is better suited for edging. The leaves are a little bit wider and the flowers larger than that of creeping lily turf.

Lily turf is an attractive edging plant for walkways and paths. It is also an excellent ground cover in shady areas under trees or placed in front of shrubs. Use lilyturf for edging, rock gardens, containers, woodland settings, or as a ground cover.

Seasons of Interest:

Bloom:  Late Summer and Fall    Foliage: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter     Fruits:  Fall and Winter

Quick ID Hints:

  • broadleaf, herbaceous perennial that forms dense clumps of narrow, linear, dark green leaves about 1-inch wide and up to 1 to 1.5 feet tall
  • fleshy and tuberous roots
  • purple 6 to 8-inch spike-like flowers blooming from August to September
  • small, round black berry-like fruits in the fall and persist through winter

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: This plant has no serious insect or disease problems. Monitor for slugs and snails. Leaf rot, crown rot, and anthracnose may occur.

VIDEO created by Andy Pulte for “Landscape Plant Identification, Taxonomy, and Morphology” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee.

 

More information on Liriope.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Lush Foundation Planting Cottage Style Foundation Planting Backyard Planting Four-Season Garden Woodland Walk Mountain Ridge Top Garden - North Woods Floricyle Asian Garden- Pathway
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Big Blue', 'Evergreen Giant', 'Marc Anthony', 'Monroe's White', 'Pee Dee Ingot', 'Royal Purple', 'Silver Sun', 'Silvery Sunproof', 'Variegata', 'Webster Wideleaf'
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#perennials#salt tolerant#shade garden#lawn alternative#low maintenance#cpp#edging#herbaceous#deer resistant#lavender flowers#groundcover#grass-like#fantz#foot traffic tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Big Blue', 'Evergreen Giant', 'Marc Anthony', 'Monroe's White', 'Pee Dee Ingot', 'Royal Purple', 'Silver Sun', 'Silvery Sunproof', 'Variegata', 'Webster Wideleaf'
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#perennials#salt tolerant#shade garden#lawn alternative#low maintenance#cpp#edging#herbaceous#deer resistant#lavender flowers#groundcover#grass-like#fantz#foot traffic tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#container plant#landscape plant sleuths course
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Liriope
    Species:
    muscari
    Family:
    Asparagaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    China, Taiwan, and Japan
    Distribution:
    Native: China North-Central, China South-Central, China Southeast, Japan, Korea, Nansei-Shoto, and Taiwan. Introduced: United States
    Wildlife Value:
    Deer and rabbit resistant
    Play Value:
    Defines Paths
    Textural
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are 1/3 inch in diameter, globose berries that start green and ripen to a shiny black.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are small, purple, densely clustered, 6-parted, and appear on an elongated 6-8 inch spike-like raceme with congested rachis. Blooms late summer from August to September.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Slippery
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are narrow, grass-like, linear-ligulate, 1 inch" wide, 1 to 1.5 feet long, and dark green.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems are acaulescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Pool/Hardscape
    Walkways
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Erosion
    Foot Traffic
    Heat
    Heavy Shade
    Humidity
    Pollution
    Poor Soil
    Rabbits
    Salt
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    No cases are known, but caution due to a relationship with known toxic plants
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Fruits