Ring muhly

(Muhlenbergia torreyi (Kunth) Hitchc. ex Bush)




Synonyms
Agrostis torreyi Kunth
Description
A low-growing, fine-leaved, fine- stemmed sodgrass that tends to grow in rings. These are caused by the center dying out as the plant enlarges. The rings may range in size from several inches to a few feet across. Ring muhly appears green to bluish-gr een, reddish or purplish. The red/purple derives from the numerous inflorescences that are more prominent than the very short threads of bowlike leaves that form a curly cushion at the base of the plant. The inflorescence, 2 to 9 inches long, spreads fine , hair-like branches against which the pedicels and smaller branchlets are often firmly pressed. These pedicels are about half as long as the spikelet.
Distribution and habitat
Ring muhly flowers from July to September on the dry ridges, sandy plateaus and rocky slopes between 4,000 and 7,000 feet. Ring muhly is widespread throughout much of the pinyon-juniper and grassland range in the northern part of the state.
General information
Even when ring muhly is young and growing rapidly its palatability is low. As the plants mature, palatability drops almost to zero. Because of their low palatability and small size, ring muhly plants have very little value as forage. Ranges with ring muhly should be managed with other grasses as key species. Continued attempts to obtain even a moderate amount of grazing from the grass will in time drive out all of the desirable forage species and result in consistent weight losses in the animals being grazed. Ranges with an abundance of this grass should be rested during the summer rainy season at least every other year until the vigor and density of the better forage species has clearly improved. An abundance of this grass is almost always a sign of a range that has been overgrazed.