Scientific Name: Bromus tectorum

Common Name: cheatgrass

Other Common Names: cheat, downy brome, early chess, military grass, thatch bromegrass

Synonyms: Anisantha tectorum, Bromus tectorum var. glabratus, Bromus tectorum var. hirsutus, Bromus tectorum var. nudus

Habit: Seeds germinate in early to mid spring and again late summer to mid autumn. Downy brome flowers in late spring to early summer

Leaves: Leaves have a membranous ligule that is lightly fringed at the top. They have a characteristic spiral twisting and soft, short dense hairs on both front and back sides of the leaf. They do not have auricles. The sheath is rounded and hairy with pinkish veins.

Identifying Characteristics: The most distinctive characteristic about downy brome are the spiraling hairy leaves.

Flower Seed Head: The spikelets have 3-8 flowers each with a long awn. The seed head droops and is dense and soft with a purplish color.

Seed Fruit: Seeds are yellow to reddish brown. If the lemma is still attached the seeds have a long awn attached.

Where Found: The plant typically grows in dry aeas with sandy or gravelly soil. It is common in turf, gardens, flowerbeds, nurseries, and sometimes agronomic crops.

  • Life cycle: winter annual

  • Plant type: Grass

  • Auricle: not present

  • Plant family: Poaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rolled in bud

  • Hair surface: hairs from base to tip

  • Ligule: membrane

  • Length: none; less than 1 mm

  • Root structure: fibrous

  • Seed head: panicle

  • Width: less than 5 mm

  • Grass stem: flat or oval