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Muhlenbergia cuspidata (Plains muhly)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Muhlenbergia cuspidata

Muhlenbergia cuspidata (Torr. ex Hook.) Rydb.

Plains Muhly, Stony-hills Muhly

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Muhlenbergia brevifolia

USDA Symbol: mucu3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The wiry flowering culms of this perennial grass are stiff, slender and strictly erect, rising 1-2 1/2 ft. in dense tufts. The seed head is smooth, slender and spike-like in all parts.

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

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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 30 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AR , CO , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , MI , MN , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , OH , PA , SD , TN , VA , WI , WY
Canada: SK
Native Distribution: PA & MI to Alt., s. to w. VA, TN, n.w. AR & NM
Native Habitat: Prairies & bluffs (often calcereous)

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Sandy or gravelly soils.


Commercially Avail: yes

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2008-08-27
Research By: TWC Staff

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