General: Grass Family (Poaceae). Cheatgrass is an annual or winter annual, softly downy to short-hairy throughout, and generally 10- 60cm (4- 24 in) tall.
Stems are solitary or in a few-stemmed tuft. Ligules are short (usually 1- 2 mm long), membranous, and fringed at the top; auricles are lacking. Leaf blades are up to 20 cm (8 in) long, flat, relatively narrow, usually 2- 5 mm wide (1/8- 3/16 in), and generally long-ciliate near the base.
The roots are fibrous and usually quite shallow; the plants do not root at the nodes. The inflorescence is a soft and drooping, much-branched, open panicle, usually becoming a dull red- purple color as it matures to a tan- buff color when fully cured. Spikelets are about 1.5- 2.0 cm (0.6- 0.8 in) long with 3- 6 florets. Florets are 12- 19 mm (1/2- 3/4 in) long, tapering to sharp points. The glumes are shorter than the florets, the first 1-veined and the second 3-veined. Lemmas are sharply tipped, glabrous to densely hairy, more-or-less rounded on the back, and with a nearly straight awn that is 7- 18 mm (3/8- 5/8 in) long. Flowering occurs from April to mid June depending on climate and location.
Reproduction is by seed. Germination occurs in fall through winter to early spring, depending on the climate and rainfall (Hickman 1993; Gleason & Cronquist 1991; Cronquist et al. 1977; Muenscher 1955; Uva et al. 1997).
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