Muhlenbergia richardsonis
Mat muhly
Image of Muhlenbergia richardsonis

Photo by Ryan P. O'Connor 

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Key Characteristics

Tufted mat-forming grass of fens and alvar, especially found on tussocks and ant mounds; stems very slender, arising from a hard knotty base (not rhizomes), terminating in a very narrow (2 mm wide) panicle; leaves very narrow, with ligules 2-3 mm long.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Muhlenbergia richardsonis

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Occurs in limestone pavement and northern fen communities in northern Michigan and in prairie fen in southern Lower Michigan. It often forms part of the turf with other grasses and sedges.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Big bluestem, little bluestem, Indian grass, prairie dropseed, shrubby cinquefoil, strict sedge, flattened spike-rush, poverty grass, prairie smoke, Richardson's sedge, bulrush sedge, ground juniper, Buxbaum's sedge, tamarack, pitcher-plant, sweet grass, Ohio goldenrod, Riddell's goldenrod, sundew, marsh fern, boneset, and joe-pye weed.


This species requires protection of hydrology, groundwater source, and natural disturbance regime. It also benefits from fen management that includes prescribed fire and brush removal, which maintains open habitat and reduces competing woody vegetation. Control of invasive species is also important, especially glossy buckthorn, a common invader of its habitat. Where occurring in sensitive alvar habitat, conservation of hydrology and control of ORV use is also important.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgement of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Sep 24, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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