- Pest Type: Weed
- Crops Affected: Wheat, Cotton, Potatoes, Soybeans, Corn
- Scientific Name: Muhlenbergia frondosa
- Pest Order: Poaceae
Wirestem muhly is a rhizomatous perennial that is erect (about 1 m tall) to sprawling or prostrate. Plants can appear bushy and top-heavy.
Reproduction is by creeping rhizomes and by seeds. The seeds germinate in early to late spring.
Seedlings are flat, rough to the touch and have short blades. Leaves are rolled in the bud, auricles are absent, and ligules are membranous (0.8-1.5 mm long) and torn or jagged across the top.
Leaves and ligule are similar to those of the seedling. No auricles and ligules are membranous. Stems are branched. Internodes are smooth and shiny.
Stems are branched and stiff, with a wiry appearance. Internodes remain smooth and shiny. Leaf blades are rather short (10 cm long by 3-7 mm wide) and flat, lacking hairs, and have rough margins. Sheaths also lack hairs, and they are rounded and shorter than the stem internodes. The base of the stem bends abruptly and touches the ground, often rooting at the lower nodes.
Flowers are produced from August to October. Spikelets are very small (3 mm) and are produced in condensed panicles located at the terminal end of the stems and from the leaf sheaths. Panicles are 3-10 cm long and 0.5-1 cm wide. Terminal panicles are slightly longer than the upper leaf blades. Axillary panicles are smaller than the terminal panicle and may be partially covered by the leaf sheath. Spikelets are soft and green or brown to purplish, and when present, awns are slender (2-7 mm long).
Short, wiry leaves and stems remain intact throughout the winter with the remnants of seedheads still attached within the sheaths.
Wirestem muhly is a weed of nursery crops, orchards, vegetables, landscapes, and occasionally agronomic crops. It also grows in waste areas, roadsides, and ditches, often on moist, rich soils.
Wirestem muhly can be found throughout the eastern United States, as far west as ND and TX and south to GA.
Nimblewill can be similar in appearance, but wirestem muhly is generally more robust and up to 3 times as tall. Also, nimblewill lacks rhizomes.