Ontario Weeds: Wire-stemmed muhly

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Wire-stemmed muhly, Muhlenbergia frondosa (Poir.) Fern.,

Other Names: muhlenbergie feuillée

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by rhizomes.

Photos and Pictures

Wire-stemmed muhly.

Wire-stemmed muhly.

Wire-stemmed muhly. A. 1 much-branched floering stem arising from a mass of scaly rhizomes. B. Leaf-base. C. Leaf-base enclosing part of the next-younger leaf.

Wire-stemmed muhly. A. 1 much-branched floering stem arising from a mass of scaly rhizomes. B. Leaf-base. C. Leaf-base enclosing part of the next-younger leaf.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stems & Roots: Rhizomes usually in a tangled mass at or just below the soil surface and consisting of many short, scaly, much branched, beige to pink or purplish, brittle segments; stems slender, wiry, up to 100cm (40in.) long, varying from upright to nearly prostrate, usually much branched and bushy in aspect, smooth; exposed stem internodes yellowish-green above each node and grading upward to pinkish-purple below the next node; leaf sheaths green, smooth, shorter than the stem internodes, with separate margins that open and expose the internodes of the stem; ligule membranous, its outer margin ragged, 0.5mm (1/50in.) long; no auricles.

Flowers & Fruit: Leaf blades rather thin, 2.5-15cm (1-6in.) long and 2-8mm (1/12-1/3in.) wide, tapering to a long, thin point; inflorescence of small, soft, somewhat silky panicles, these at first green, then becoming greenish-purple to purple at maturity, very numerous, being produced at the ends of stems and from most leaf axils, each with clusters of crowded spikelets; spikelets soft, hairy, 2-3.3mm (1/12-1/8in.) long, each spikelet with 1 floret and an awn 4-12mm (1/10-½in.) long or awnless. Flowers from July to September.

Habitat: Wire-stemmed muhly is a native plant found in southern and eastern Ontario in moist, rich soil in woods, thickets, shores, banks and flood plains, from which it has spread into cultivated fields, roadsides and waste places.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its tangled mass of beige-purple, scaly rhizomes, its slender somewhat purplish stems and its numerous compact inflorescences from upper leaf axils as well as ends of stems.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003