Ontario Weeds: Downy brome

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links

Name: Downy brome, Bromus tectorum L.,

Other Names: brome des toits, Cheat, Cheat grass, Cheat grass brome, Downy chess, Slender chess

Family: Grass Family (Gramineae)

General Description: Annual or winter annual, reproducing only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Downy brome.

Downy brome.

Downy brome. A. Plants. B. Leaf-bse. C. Spiket with 2 developed florets.

Stem and leaf-base characteristics of a typical grass.

Stems & Roots: Stems 20-60cm (8-24in.) tall and slender, but may be only 5cm (2in.) in dry gravelly situations; stems, leaves and leaf sheaths densely and softly hairy; leaf sheaths of lower leaves closed (margins united) nearly to the top, middle and upper leaf sheaths progressively more split with margins separate or overlapping; ligule membranous, 3mm (1/8in.) long, its margin frequently lacerated or irregularly torn; no auricles; panicle 7-20cm (3-8in. ) long with many soft, slender, drooping to partly erect branches; spikelets, including awns 2-4cm (4/5-1-3/5in.) long, and having 2 to 7 florets ("seeds").

Flowers & Fruit: Young plants are bright green but stems, leaves and inflorescence often turn pinkish to purplish-brown with age. On mature and dry plants, the awns become quite stiff and spreading, and the hairy leaves rather harsh. Flowers from May to July.

Habitat: Downy brome occurs throughout southern Ontario, especially on sandy or gravelly soils, in poor pastures, roadsides, embankments, beaches and waste places.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from Smooth brome, Chess and Upright brome by its hairy texture and its thin, long-awned spikelets.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control


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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2002
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003