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Muhlenbergia wrightii (Spike muhly)
Anderson, Wynn

Muhlenbergia wrightii

Muhlenbergia wrightii Vasey ex J.M. Coult.

Spike Muhly

Poaceae (Grass Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Wright’s muhly or spike muhly’s clumps of erect, wiry stems rise 8-24 in. from a hard crown. Perennial clumps can be 1-2 ft. in diameter. The seed head is spike-like and interrupted along its length. Leaves are narrow and light green.

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.

The species name is for Charles Wright, 1811-1885, world-wide botanical collector but mainly in Texas (1837-1952), Cuba and his native Connecticut.


From the Image Gallery

1 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul


USA: AZ , CO , NM , OK , UT
Native Distribution: CO & UT, s. to NM, AZ & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Plains; open slopes of pinyon-juniper or pine-grassland areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Various dry soils.
Conditions Comments: Spike muhly is slow to establish but persistent.


Description: Propagate by seed.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants 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:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2021-03-12
Research By: TWC Staff

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