Plants annual. Culms 10-40 cm, erect; internodes mostly glabrous, strigulose below the nodes. Sheaths usually longer than the internodes, scabridulous or puberulent, keeled; ligules 1.5-2.5 mm, membranous, acute, erose; blades (1)2-5.5(8) cm long, 0.8-2 mm wide, usually involute, occasionally flat, scabridulous abaxially, villous adaxially. Panicles 14-24 cm long, 3-7 cm wide, narrowly pyramidal, open; primary branches 2-7 cm, ascending, diverging less than 40° from the rachises; pedicels 1-2(3) mm, usually shorter than the florets, appressed; disarticulation above the glumes. Spikelets 1.7-3 mm. Glumes subequal, 1.3-1.8 mm, sparsely hirsute, 1-veined; lower glumes 1.3-1.6 mm, acuminate, sometimes awned, awns to 0.5 mm; upper glumes 1.4-1.8 mm, wider than the lower glumes, acuminate; lemmas (1.7)1.9-2.5 mm, lanceolate, purplish or yellowish to light brownish, appressed-pubescent on the midveins and margins, hairs to 0.5 mm, apices awned, awns 1.2-3.5 mm, delicate; paleas 1.8-2.4 mm, oblong-elliptic, glabrous; anthers 0.4-0.6 mm, purplish. Caryopses 1.3-2.3 mm, fusiform to dorsally compressed, light brownish. 2n = 40.
Muhlenbergia eludens grows in open sandy gullies, washes, rocky slopes, and roadsides. It is found at elevations of 1700-2450 m in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.