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Report an Invasive Species

Cheatgrass or Downy brome

Cheatgrass or Downy brome

Cheatgrass or Downy brome

(Bromus tectorum)

Priority: -  Control

Tags: Agricultural | Terrestrial

Identification and Reproduction

Introduction

  • Cheatgrass is an annual or winter annual grass (Poaceae family) that grows in tufts.
  • It has green, erect and slender stems. When mature it will grow to 75 centimetres.
  • This plant has drooping spikelets or inflorencence that are multi-branched in a terminal cluster. These flower heads are soft and feathery. 

Reproduction

It reproduces only by seeds, which can be moved by wind, animals, or people. 

Habitat & Ecology

  • Cheatgrass grows easily on disturbed sites and will commonly invade burned rangeland, heavily grazed grasses, and other open areas.
  • It is commonly found in southern B.C., in grasslands, dry forests, or winter cover crops.

Impacts

Ecological:

  • It is extremely invasive and tends to seed earlier than native species. Cheatgrass displaces native vegetation and reduces biodiversity.
  • It has an extensive root system that tends to lower the site's water availability. 
  • Cheatgrass seasonally dries out by mid-June and adds wildfire fuel altering the fire regime of the area. 

Management

  • Cheatgrass should be prevented by regular monitoring of disturbed or grassy areas.
  • It can also be prevent through land management, for example by maintaining a diversity of vegetation.

Resources

For information on cheatgrass identification and control check out the Columbia University's page on cheatgrass. 

Header photo (Famartin).