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Muhlenbergia rigens (Deergrass)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Muhlenbergia rigens

Muhlenbergia rigens (Benth.) Hitchc.

Deergrass, Meadow Muhly, Deer Muhly

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Epicampes rigens, Muhlenbergia marshii, Muhlenbergia mundula

USDA Symbol: MURI2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Deer Grass or Meadow Muhly, a robust, perennial bunchgrass, grows 3-5 ft. high, with narrow, 2 ft. plumes rising above light-green blades. The plant resembles a small pampas grass.

The genus of this plant is named for Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1753-1815), also Heinrich Ludwig Muehlenberg, or Henry Muhlenberg, who was a German-educated Lutheran minister and the first president of Franklin College, now Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania. He is most famous due to his work in the field of botany. An accomplished botanist, chemist, and minerologist, Henry is credited with classifying and naming 150 species of plants in his 1785 work Index Flora Lancastriensis. Muhlenberg's work and collaboration with European botanists led to great advances in the study of plants and earned him the distinction as America's first outstanding botanist.


From the Image Gallery

4 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: The bloom time varies over its range.


USA: AZ , CA , NM , NV , TX , UT
Native Distribution: West Texas west to California and Baja California, north to southern Nevada and southern Utah, south to central Mexico. Disjunct populations in central Texas.
Native Habitat: Damp to dry grasslands, open woods & seasonal creeks

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Seasonally wet to dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Meadow muhly will attain mature size in one or two seasons.


Use Wildlife: Seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Foliage used for nesting and denning.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: High

Value to Beneficial Insects

Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Sow seed.
Seed Treatment: No treatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
United States Botanic Garden - Washington, DC
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Muhlenbergia rigens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Muhlenbergia rigens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Muhlenbergia rigens


Record Modified: 2023-01-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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