Muhlenbergia torreyana - (J.A. Schultes) A.S. Hitchc.
Torrey's Dropseed
Other English Common Names: New Jersey Muhly, Torrey's Muhly
Other Common Names: New Jersey muhly
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Muhlenbergia torreyana (Schult.) Hitchc. (TSN 41945)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.146912
Element Code: PMPOA481U0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Muhlenbergia
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Muhlenbergia torreyana
Taxonomic Comments: Distinct species. A different plant from the similarly named Muhlenbergia torrei.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 31Dec2009
Global Status Last Changed: 22Jun1990
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Muhlenbergia torreyana is extant through the New Jersey Pine Barrens, on the coastal plain in eastern Maryland and southeastern North Carolina, and disjunctly in central Tennessee. It is considered historical in Georgia and extirpated from New York and Delaware. Approximately 67 occurrences are believed extant; the vast majority are in New Jersey, with several in North Carolina and a few in Tennessee and Maryland. An additional 19 are considering historical, also mostly in New Jersey. In New Jersey, this species can be locally abundant where it occurs, dominating over relatively large areas; elsewhere in the range, it is considered more rare. Threats in New Jersey are considered relatively low, as most occurrences are in the pine barrens region where they are protected from direct habitat destruction. Nevertheless, impacts from recreational vehicles, siltation from nearby residential development, ditching, and fire suppression present some threat. Elsewhere in the range, threats include drainage, lowering of the water table, impacts from recreational vehicles, ditching, draining, logging, and fire suppression. Because this species is dependent on fire, water table fluctuations, and/or other disturbances to maintain open habitat, it is vulnerable to disruptions in these factors. Flowering typically occurs following fire.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Delaware (SX), Georgia (SH), Maryland (S1), New Jersey (S3), New York (SX), North Carolina (S2), Tennessee (S1)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Extant in southern New Jersey (through the pine barrens), eastern Maryland, southeastern North Carolina, and central Tennessee. Historical records for New York, Delaware, and Georgia. North Carolina harbors the next largest number of occurrences after New Jersey; Sorrie et al. (1997) report that there are several other plants known to exhibit a "bicentric type of distribution, with centers of distribution in the New Jersey Pine Barrens region and in the coastal plain of the Carolinas." Similarly, Sorrie and Weakley (2001) note that central Tennessee disjunctions of typically coastal plain plants are not uncommon.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 67 occurrences are believed extant; the vast majority are in New Jersey, with several in North Carolina and a few in Tennessee and Maryland. Nearly 30 of these extant occurrences have not been visited in 20+ years, however, so would benefit from re-survey. An additional 19 occurrences are considering historical, 1 in Tennessee and the remainder in New Jersey.

Population Size Comments: In New Jersey, it is infrequent/local in its overall distribution, but can be locally abundant where it occurs (pine barrens). At least 60 acres of "turf" covered 100% by the species are believed to occur in New Jersey. Elsewhere in its discontinuous range, the species is much more rare; for example, the Maryland occurrence is estimated to contain only 100-200 plants.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some (13-40)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Appproximately 34 occurrences are believed to have excellent or good viability, although 21 of these have not been visited in 20+ years.

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Because this species depends on seasonal flooding to maintain open habitat at many sites, hydrological disruptions (e.g., ditching, draining, lowering of water table) would constitute a potential threat. Fire suppression is a threat throughout much of the range, particularly at sites more dependent on fire to keep the habitat open. In most of the areas that support this plant, recreational vehicles are a known or potential threat. Overall, threats in New Jersey are considered relatively low; most occurrences are in the pine barrens region, where they are protected from direct habitat loss by Pinelands region regulations. Additional threats in New Jersey include siltation from residential development, ditching, clearing for blue- and cranberry farming, and unfavorable roadside vegetation management practices. In Maryland, the occurrence is threatened by drainage and/or potential lowering of the water table. In North Carolina, in addition to vehicular disturbance, threats include pond pine encroachment due to past ditching and vegetation/soil disturbance from tree cutting and plowlines. In Tennessee, threats include logging, draining, and fire suppression.

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: Has declined from its former range (extirpated in two states and historical in one). Past destruction of wetland habitats has likely reduced rangewide suitable habitat for this species, particularly outside New Jersey.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Dependent on fire, water table fluctuations and other disturbances to maintain open habitat. As long as open habitat is maintained, the species is resilient.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Extant in southern New Jersey (through the pine barrens), eastern Maryland, southeastern North Carolina, and central Tennessee. Historical records for New York, Delaware, and Georgia. North Carolina harbors the next largest number of occurrences after New Jersey; Sorrie et al. (1997) report that there are several other plants known to exhibit a "bicentric type of distribution, with centers of distribution in the New Jersey Pine Barrens region and in the coastal plain of the Carolinas." Similarly, Sorrie and Weakley (2001) note that central Tennessee disjunctions of typically coastal plain plants are not uncommon.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States DEextirpated, GA, MD, NC, NJ, NYextirpated, TN

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
MD Caroline (24011)
NC Brunswick (37019), Cumberland (37051), Hoke (37093), Onslow (37133), Pender (37141), Richmond (37153), Robeson (37155)
NJ Atlantic (34001), Burlington (34005), Camden (34007), Cape May (34009), Cumberland (34011)*, Gloucester (34015)*, Ocean (34029)
TN Coffee (47031), Warren (47177)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Lower Delaware (02040202)+, Cohansey-Maurice (02040206)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+, Great Egg Harbor (02040302)+, Choptank (02060005)+
03 White Oak River (03020301)+, New River (03020302)+, Upper Cape Fear (03030004)+, Northeast Cape Fear (03030007)+, Lumber (03040203)+, Little Pee Dee (03040204)+, Waccamaw (03040206)+
05 Collins (05130107)+
06 Upper Duck (06040002)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A perennial grass forming clonal patches with evenly spaced, upright, blue-green tufts, each tuft a flattened stem with 5-10 erect, stiff leaves. In bloom, produces a plume of tiny purple flowers; the plume is 10-28 cm in length and is held on a 30-75 cm stem. Flowers August-October and fruit August-November.
Technical Description: From Flora of North America Editorial Committee (2003): "Plants perennial; rhizomatous, not cespitose. Culms 30-75 cm, compressed and keeled; internodes mostly glabrous, strigose on the keels and below the nodes. Sheaths strigose on the keels, basal sheaths much shorter than those above; ligules 0.3-1 mm, firm, truncate, ciliate; blades 6-20 cm long, 1-3.5 mm wide, conduplicate, scabrous on both surfaces, tapering to a fine sharp point. Panicles 10-28 cm long, 4-8 cm wide, cylindrical, open; primary branches 3-10 cm long, 0.05-0.1 mm thick, capillary, diverging 30-40 from the rachises, never appearing fascicled; pedicels 1.5-9 mm, usually longer than the spikelets. Spikelets 1.1-2.2 mm, occasionally with 2 florets. Glumes equal, 1-2 mm, purplish, scabridulous, 1-veined, acute, unawned; lemmas 1.1-2.2 mm, lanceolate, plumbeous, scabridulous, apices acute, unawned; paleas 1-2.1 mm, lanceolate, scabridulous, acute; anthers 1-1.4 mm, orange-yellow, turning purple at maturity. Caryopses about 1 mm, fusiform, brownish."
Diagnostic Characteristics: Muhlenbergia torreyana possesses distinctive, scaly rhizomes (Sorrie et al. 1997). M. expansa may occur in close proximity, but can easily be distinguished from M. torreyana by its earlier phenology, much broader inflorescence, and cespitose, tussock-forming habit (Sorrie et al. 1997). Morphologically, M. torreyana resembles the western M. asperifolia but differs in its strigose, strongly compressed, keeled culms and less strongly divergent panicle branches (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2003). According to Weakley (2008), in the vegetative condition, M. torreyana can be recognized by its forming clonal patches with evenly spaced, upright, blue-green tufts, each tuft a flattened stem with 5-10 ascending-erect, rather stiff, usually conduplicate leaves, the summit of each sheath with a pronounced cartilaginous thickening, easily felt by running the flattened stem from base to apex between thumb and forefinger.
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, TEMPORARY POOL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Barrens, Forest Edge, Forest/Woodland, Savanna, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: Occurs in relatively open, perennially wet or moist (usually seasonally inundated) areas, usually on sandy or peaty substrates. Habitats include wet swales, open stream banks, open grass/sedge savannas in the pine barrens, cypress savannas, seasonally inundated pondshores, vernal or intermittently wet ponds dominated by grasses and sedges (often on edges), moist peaty meadows, and open bogs. Also occurs in wet, open disturbed habitats such as ditches, abandoned clay or sand pits, abandoned cranberry bogs, intermittently wet old fields, and road, powerline, and railroad ROW areas. Many sites are in lowland portions of the pine barrens (New Jersey), but sites are also known from oak barrens (oak barren bogs, moist grassy oak savannas) and Delmarva and Carolina Bays. In undisturbed areas, the open habitats required by this species are maintained by regular flooding and/or periodic fire (occurs in dynamic landscape mosaic, at least in some parts of the range). This grass often dominates over large areas, forming solid stands. In New Jersey, associated species include Dichanthelium wrightianum, Dichanthelium scabriusculum, Panicum agrostoides, Juncus caesariensis, Calamovilfa brevipilis, Lobelia canbyi, Ludwigia linearis, Platanthera integra, Xyris fimbriata, Asclepias rubra, Panicum virgatum, Carex barrattii, Cladium mariscoides, Scleria reticularis, Scirpus longii, Rhynchospora knieskernii, Rhynchospora pallida, Rhynchospora oligantha, and Rhynchospora cephalantha. In North Carolina, it is often under or near Taxodium ascendens and is associated with Lysimachia loomisii at one site. 0-150 m.
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30Oct1992
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Morse, L.; rev. D. Snyder, rev. K. Gravuer (2009)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany, 8th ed., Corr. Printing, 1970. Van Nostrand, New York. LXIV+1632 pp.

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2003a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 25. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 2. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxv + 781 pp.

  • Hough, M. Y. 1983. New Jersey Wild Plants. Harmony Press, Harmony, New Jersey. 414 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Mitchell, Richard S. and Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New York State Plants. Contributions to a Flora of New York State. Checklist IV. Bulletin No. 490. New York State Museum. Albany, NY. 400 pp.

  • Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1183 pp.

  • Sorrie, B.A., B. van Eerden, and M.J. Russo. 1997. Noteworthy plants from Fort Bragg and Camp MacKall, North Carolina. Castanea 62(4): 239-259.

  • Sorrie, B.A., and A.S. Weakley. 2001. Coastal Plain vascular plant endemics: Phytogeographic patterns. Castanea 66(1-2):50-82.

  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY - MD FIELD OFFICE. 1994. POPULATION MAPPING BOUNDARY FOR MUHLENBERGIA TORREYANA MONITORING PROGRAM.

  • Weakley, A. S. 2008. Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, northern Florida, and surrounding areas. Working Draft of 7 April 2008. University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU), North Carolina Botanical Garden, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Online. Available: http://herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm (Accessed 2008).

  • Weakley, A.S. No date. Working Draft of Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia. The Nature Conservancy, Southern Heritage Task Force, Southeast Regional Office.

  • Zaremba, Robert E. 1991. Corrections to phenology list of April 9, 1991.

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