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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Muhlenbergia arenicola - sand muhly

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Grows on sandy mesas, limestone benches, and in valleys and open desert grasslands. Does well in dry conditions.
Plant Communities: Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Montane Conifer Forest
Elevation: 4000 - 7000 feet

Similar Species: M. torreyi, M. arizonica

General Description

Desc: Tufted perennial grass. Erect or reclining with ascending tips (decumbent) are 8 to 24 inches long with rough surfaces and short dense hairs in the vicinity of the nodes.
Identification notes: Erect perennial bunchgrass, basal clumps of thin, inrolled blades 2 to 5 inches long. Seedhead up to 12 inches long, spreading; branchlets and spikelet stems appressed; spikelets about 1/8 inch long, stems similar in length; glumes awn-tipped.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: N  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): N  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: 24 to 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Branched - open and spreading  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Jul - Oct

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: One-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Less than 1/4 inch   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedhead is 4 to 12 inches long and 2 to 8 inches wide. Primary branches are spreading but branchlets and pedicels are often somewhat appressed. Elliptical, purplish spikelets have glumes of equal length; one or both awn-tipped.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Involute  
Blade Notes: Blades are 2 to 5 inches long, less than 1/16 inch wide with rough, waxy coated surfaces. Leaves are usually folded to rolled inward, midveins and margins are green, not thickened.
Sheath Hairy: N  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Membranous
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): N
Vegetative Notes: Sheaths are usually a little shorter than the internodes, not keeled and rough with membranous edges. Basal sheaths are rounded, not becoming spirally coiled when old. Membranous ligule is 1/3 inch long and often splits down the center forming two lobes.

Forage Value: This densely tufted perennial grass grows close to the soil surface and provides very little forage.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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