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Muhlenbergia rigida (Purple muhly)
Leander, Bruce

Muhlenbergia rigida

Muhlenbergia rigida (Kunth) Trin.

Purple Muhly

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Muhlenbergia metcalfei

USDA Symbol: MURI3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Purple muhly is a densely tufted perennial with erect stems, 2-3 ft. tall. Leaves are crowded at the base among persistent old sheaths. The seed head is dark purple; narrow at the base and becoming loose and open at the top of its 6-12 in. length.

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

2 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 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Flowers inconspicuous.


Native Distribution: W. TX to AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: High elevation, Hillsides, Slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Rocky or gravelly soils. Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay


Propagation Material: Clump Division

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX

Wildflower Center Seed Bank

LBJWC-PM-21 Collected 2006-11-03 in Jeff Davis County by Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

1 collection(s) available in the Wildflower Center Seed Bank


Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

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


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

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