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Muhlenbergia Schreb.

Kingdom: Plantae Rank: Genus Parent: Poaceae Status: Valid

Common Names:

  • MUHLY - English, United States of America

Morphological Description

Diagnosis: Ours perennials, with or without rhizomes; ligule a membrane; inflorescence a panicle, open and widely spreading to contracted and spike-like; spikelets usually 1-flowered, disarticulating above the glumes; glumes 1-veined or veinless, rarely 35-veined; lemma 3(5)-veined, awned or awnless; palea 2-veined; stamens 3.


Notes: A genus of ca. 155 species primarily of tropical and warm areas of the Americas, with a few (6 species) in s Asia (Peterson 2000, 2003b). The genus is important in arid and semi-arid regions, and the species are characterized by C₄ photosynthesis (an advantage in arid environments) (Watson & Dallwitz 1992). Both morphological and some molecular data suggest that Muhlenbergia is related to Sporobolus (Clayton & Renvoize 1986; Hilu & Alice 2000). However, recent molecular data (Hilu & Alice 2001) link Muhlenbergia with genera such as Aegopogon, Schedonnardus, and Bouteloua and raise questions about the monophyly of Muhlenbergia. Yatskievych (1999) pointed out that in Missouri, the 3-veined lemmas of Muhlenbergia distinguish it from most members of the similar genus Sporobolus, which is usually characterized by 1-veined lemmas (except S. ozarkanus and S. vaginiflorus with faintly 3-veined lemmas). Those two Sporobolus species are clearly distinguished by being annuals and having all or most of their inflorescences enclosed within leaf sheaths, versus Muhlenbergia species being perennials with at least some inflorescences conspicuous and exserted. The same situation applies to East TX. (Named for Gotthilf Henry Ernest Muhlenberg, 17531815, distinguished American botanist and Lutheran minister of PA) (subfamily Chloridoideae, tribe Cynodonteae)