Scientific Name: Bromus
Common Name: cheat grass or drooping brome
History: Cheatgrass is a winter annual that is
native to Eurasia. It was first introduced into North
America between 1850 and the late 1890's. It was brought
here by contaminated shipments of grain seed, straw packing
material, and soils. At the time cheatgrass was brought
over to North America, rangelands were being abused and a severe
drought was in the making. During the drought, native
vegetation was being reduced and cheatgrass was able to take
over and out-compete the native plants. It can be found in
a wide range of environments from the bottom of a desert valley
all the way up to peaks at 13,000 feet.
Roots: Cheatgrass has an extensive root
system. It has wide-spreading lateral roots that are key
to the plants survival. The root system has the capability
to reduce soil moisture to the permanent wilting point to a
depth of 70 cm.
Stems and Leaves: Cheatgrass has a wide range of
stem sizes varying from three to 30 inches in height. The
leaves emerge dark green with a hint of purple. As the
plant matures, it turns to a dead-looking yellow color.
Flowers and Seeds: Cheatgrass has a crooked seed
head and small soft hairs covering the entire body of the
plant. At maturity, seed heads range in size from two to
six inches long. The seeds have wedged awns that can be
dispersed by wind or water but mainly by clinging to clothing or
the coats of animals.
Methods of Reproduction: One plant can produce up
to 300 seeds. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for up
to 11 years making it very hard to control. The seeds can
reproduce in high temperature soils and germination is the best
in the dark.
Environments Favorable for Infestation: Cheatgrass
is found in almost any type of environment and will grow in
almost any type of soil. Cheatgrass is most commonly found
in low foothills and prairie settings. It is often found
along roadsides and disturbed areas such as construction, fires,
floods, poor grazing activity and intense recreation areas.
Environmental Impacts: Cheatgrass is notorious for
out-competing native plants because of its ability to survive in
any environmental condition. It also can change soil
properties, have a decline in agricultural production, and
altered fire frequencies. Cheat grass is a highly
flammable plant and densely growing populations provided ample
fuels for grass fires. Research seems to show that
cheatgrass is causing hotter fires more early in the fire season
in the western U.S.
Prevention: Do not spread the seeds by vehicles,
clothing or pets. It seems to stick to everything so be
careful that you don't bring seed with you and contaminate other
Mechanical: Hand pulling can be used in the spring and
fall but is only effective in small areas. Disking and
tilling can be done in the spring and fall before the seed heads
Biological: Currently there are no biological
control insects approved for release right now. Livestock
grazing can be done heavily in the early spring when the grass
is green before the plant goes to seed. Fungus is being
Chemical: Chemicals such as roundup or plateau can
be used to kill cheatgrass, but before you use any chemicals be
sure to check the labels to make sure they list
cheatgrass. Combinations of herbicides may be required to
control your infestation.
Other: In the late spring or early summer, prescribed
burns can be done but under supervision of the fire
department. There is a risk that it could turn into a
1. "Bromus Tectorum." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation.
Web. 13 Aug. 2015 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bromus_tectorum
2. "Cheatgrass." Cheatgrass. Web. 13 Aug.
3. "Cheatgrass and Wildfire." Cheatgrass and Wildfire.
Web. 13 Aug. 2015. http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/natres/06310.html
8/13/2015 By: Bryce
Murphy Back to Home