Synonym(s): Anisantha tectorum
Family: Poaceae (Grass Family)
Duration and Habit: Annual Grass/Grasslike
B. tectorum is a winter annual. The seedlings are bright green and have hairy leaves. Stems are erect and slender and may also be slightly hairy. The stem tips, where the seeds are located, droop slightly. The grass has an overall fine, soft appearance and typically grows 50-60 cm tall. As it dries out it begins to turn purplish in colour. B. tectorum is a straw-like colour when completely dry, which is when it is most flammable.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available, or there are no native species that could be confused with Cheat grass.
Ecological Threat: As B. tectorum is such a dry plant, it increases the frequency of fires in an area. This causes declines in natives that are accustomed to less frequent fires while B. tectorum flourishes. The more frequent fires cause a loss of topsoil and nutrients, which alters the make up of the soil and therefore the ecosystem. On the other hand, B. tectorum may stabilize the soil from wind and water erosion (Carpenter et. al, 1999). In Russia the impacts of B. tectorum are less serious, even in regions with similar precipitation to the Great Basin of the United States. While it will rapidly and completely dominate disturbed sites in Russia, these will often revert to more diverse, stable communities within three to five years of the invasion. It has been suggested that this is due to the more diverse natural communities present in these affected regions of Russia, and the greater proportion of summer rainfall that benefits perennials rather than winter annuals such as B. tectorum (Clark, 2001).North American B. tectorum invasions cost wheat farmers in the western United States and Canada US$350-375 million in control and loss yields each year. Although used by some farmers as feed, it can cause serious damage to livestock's mouth, intestines, nostrils, and eyes. In North America it competes with native shrubs and perennial grasses and totally alters the ecosystem.
Biology & Spread: B. tectorum is self-pollinating. Seeds are dispersed by wind and animals.
U.S. Habitat: B. tectorum is predominately found in disturbed sagebrush grassland ecosystems but is also found in undisturbed shrub-steppe and intermountain ranges. It spreads into areas that are overgrazed, cultivated, frequently burned or otherwise disturbed. B. tectorum prefers full sunlight and does not grow well under the forest canopy.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: B. tectorum is native to southern Europe and southwestern Asia.
U.S. Present: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC
Distribution: It has invaded most of Europe, southern Russia, western and central Asia, Japan, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, Canada and the United States.
List All Observations of Bromus tectorum reported by Citizen Scientists
Preventative measures: It is important to avoid disturbance caused by overgrazing, cultivation and frequent fires as they encourage invasion.
Physical: Where infestation is light, burning is not recommended, however, hand pulling can be effective in these areas. Care must be taken to remove most of the root, or it will grow back. Treatment should be followed by re-seeding of perennials, or else B. tectorum and other weeds will re-establish in the newly disturbed area. Follow-up treatment is required.
Biological: In North America, grasses, such as Crested Wheatgrass, have been planted to compete with B. tectorum. This has been successful in some cases.
Integrated management: Mowing or cutting is not recommended. Burning and herbicide application are effective control measures, but to ensure selective control, they should be performed in early spring when non-target species are dormant. However B. tectorum fires can burn very hot and move very quickly so care should be taken (Beck pers. comm., in Carpenter et. al, 1999).
Carpenter, A.T., and Murray, T.A., 1999. Element Stewardship Abstract for Bromus tectorum. Available from: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/esadocs/documnts/bromtec.rtf [Accessed December 2002].
GOERT (The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team)., 2003. Exotic plant species in Garry oak and associated ecosystems in British Columbia as of January 2003
R. N. Mack and W. M. Lonsdale., 2002. Eradicating invasive plants: Hard-won lessons for islands. In Turning the tide: the eradication of invasive species: 311-318. Veitch, C.R. and Clout, M.N.(eds). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN. Gland. Switzerland and Cambridge. UK.
Clark, B. 2001. Russian Cheatgrass Study - Visit to the Great Basin by Four Russian Scientists. Trip Report Bureau of Land Management - Office of Fire and Aviation. Available from www.fire.blm.gov/Intntl/trip_reports/cheatgrass.pdf [accessed 26 August 2003].
CSIRO, 2001. Biotic invasions: lessons from Australia. CSIRO Media Release 24th May 2001. Available from http://www.ento.csiro.au/publicity/pressrel/2001/23may01.html [Accessed 26 August 2003].
Invaders Databases System. (2002). Available from: http://invader.dbs.umt.edu/queryplant1.asp.
ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System), 2004. Online Database Bromus tectorum. Available from: http://www.itis.usda.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=40524 [Accessed December 31 2004]
Kaczmarski, J. 2000. Restoration Implications of Bromus tectorum- Infested Grasslands of the Great Basin. Restoration Review Vol. 6. University of Minnesota.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Plant Profiles (2002). Bromus tectorum L. cheatgrass. Available from: http://plants.usda.gov/cgi_bin/plant_profile.cgi?symbol=BRTE
Virginia Tech Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science. UNDATED. "Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide: Downy Brome: Bromus tectorum".
Weeds British Columbia, 2002. "Cheatgrass" Province of British Columbia
Global Invasive Species Database (http://www.issg.org/database)
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