Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Mexican Muhly - Muhlenbergia mexicana   (L.) Trinius
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Members of Muhlenbergia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Cyperales » Family Poaceae
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Author(L.) Trinius
DistributionMountains only. Expected in other montane counties.

N.S. to Yukon, south to NC, OK, and CA.
AbundanceRare to perhaps uncommon. It may be overlooked, due to its similarity to M. frondosa, M. glabrifloris, and M. sylvatica. The website editors suggest a State Rank of S1S2; this is a Watch List species.
HabitatMafic and calcareous fens, seeps, glades, and ditches; barrens, drier woodlands and openings. Definitely occurs over higher pH soils.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting September-October.
IdentificationThis species resembles M. frondosa, but axillary inflorescences often are absent. If present, they are fully emergent from the leaf sheaths (vs. partly included in that species). From M. sylvatica, it is told by the shorter awn (maximum of 9 mm long vs. 7-12 mm long in that species).
Taxonomic CommentsThis species is a Northern one, and does not occur anywhere near Mexico! Unfortunately, renaming a species (scientific name) owing to a misnomer of a name is practically impossible.

In NC the genus Muhlenbergia assumes 2 very different forms of inflorescences: very open and airy or narrow and elongate, with short branches. In both cases, attention to details of the key is important, along with a dissecting scope. Once learned, however, most muhlys can be identified on sight in the field. Spikelets contain a single floret (rarely 2-3).
Other Common Name(s)Hairy Wirestem Muhly. Most references do use Mexican Muhly as the common name, owing to the mexicana specific epithet, but again, this is most unfortunate!
State RankS1? [S1S2]
Global RankG5
State StatusW7
US Status
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USACE-empFACW link
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