General: Grass Family (Poaceae). Western wheatgrass Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Love (formerly) is perhaps one of the best known and most common of our native grasses. It is long-lived with an extensive, very strong, rhizomatous root systems combined with a few deep roots.
Stems arise singly or in small clusters and grow from 1 to 3 feet tall. The sheaths are hairy and the purplish auricles are clawlike and clasp the stem. The seed spike is stiff, erect and about 2 to 6 inches long. The awn-tipped (to 5mm) lemmas, paleas and glumes are generally glabrous or short-hairy. The ligule is inconspicuous and leaves are flat, very rough on the upper surface and margins, blue-green in color, with very prominent veins. Because of this bluish color, western wheatgrass is sometimes called bluestem or bluejoint wheatgrass.
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