Bromus tectorum

Downy Brome

Botanical description: Downy Brome grass is a ubiquitous sight in such urban habitats as tree pits, along fence lines, pavement edges and in abandoned lots with a preference for gravelly or sandy soils. Bromus tectorum produces conspicuous panicles of flowers that are purple-tinged when new, aging to a buff hue. The weight of the inflorescence causes stems to nod and sway in slight breezes, despite its relatively short stature. Seeds of this annual grass generally germinate in the autumn, over-wintering as seedlings to bloom in early spring. This is a form of drought adaptation that many Mediterranean climate plants have developed, which is precisely where Bromus tectorum is from. Plants that initiate development in the cool temperatures of fall have already completed their lifecycle by the time summer drought occurs. Mature seeds are dispersed by mechanical means via barbed seeds that stick to clothing and fur. The specific name, tectorum, means roof and downy brome was originally found growing in the rotting straw of thatch roofs. Downy brome joins other tenacious plants in the urban flora, providing food and nesting material, but in the western USA, dry stalks of Bromus tectorum have increase the occurrence of wild fires and can muscle-out more delicate native plants.



Place of Origin

Eurasia and North Africa