Downy brome Bromus tectorum L.
Family: Poaceae (Grass family)
Life cycle: Annual (winter)
Native status: Introduced
Habitat: pastures, no-till fields, small grains, rangelan
General description: Leaves are up to 10 inches long, plants reach height of 2 feet. Both surfaces of leaves and sheaths are covered with short, soft, dense hairs. Young leaves are twisted. Membranous ligule. Fused leaf sheath. Seedhead is a dropping, soft (often purplish) panicle. Spikelets have long awns (up to 0.7 inch long). Flowers in April to May.
Key ID traits: Dense, soft hairs on leaves and stems. Sheath is fused rather than overlapping.
Similar species: Cheat or chess (Bromus secalinus) has similar growth habit but leaves and sheaths are smooth or with few hairs.
Miscellaneous: Native to Mediterranean region. Frequently found in overgrazed pastures since animals avoid downy brome due to sharp awns that can cause mechanical injury to mouth and digestive tracts. A serious invasive plant of western rangeland that increases risks of wildfires since it matures in spring and the dead plants are a fire hazard during dry summers.