Field brome is a winter annual. It produces dense, low leafy growth in the fall. Spring growth starts earlier than most other annual grasses used for cover crops. It does not have creeping stolons or rhizomes, but tillers profusely. It produces seedheads in late spring or early summer. Seed stalks are 2 to 3 feet tall. The principal characteristics that make it an outstanding cover crop are the extensive fiberous root system and the relatively short top growth. It is winter hardy in northeast and north central regions. It grows vigorously under high fertility and often smothers other grasses or weeds. It is an excellent seed producer and can maintain itself as a reseeding annual. There are 250,000 seeds per pound.
Localities documented in Tropicos sources
Argentina (South America)
Bolivia (South America)
Canada (North America)
United Kingdom (Europe)
United States (North America)
Russian Federation (Asia)
Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
- Anonymous. 1986. List-Based Rec., Soil Conserv. Serv., U.S.D.A. Database of the U.S.D.A., Beltsville. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1103
- Soreng, R. J., G. Davidse, P. M. Peterson, F. O. Zuloaga, E. J. Judziewicz, T. S. Filgueiras & O. Morrone. 2003 and onwards. On-line taxonomic novelties and updates, distributional additions and corrections, and editorial changes since the four published volumes of the Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae) published in Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. vols. 39, 41, 46, and 48. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/CNWG:. In R. J. Soreng, G. Davidse, P. M. Peterson, F. O. Zuloaga, T. S. Filgueiras, E. J. Judziewicz & O. Morrone Internet Cat. New World Grasses. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1024044
- Kucera, C. L. 1998. The Grasses of Missouri 305 pp., University of Missouri Press, Colombia. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1018088
- Pavlick, L. E. 1995. Bromus N. Amer. 1–160. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1001506
- Smith, P. M. & F. Sales. 1993. Bromus L. sect. Bromus: Taxonomy and relationship of some species with small spikelets. Edinburgh J. Bot. 50(2): 149–171. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/45886
- Fernald, M. 1950. Manual (ed. 8) i–lxiv, 1–1632. American Book Co., New York. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1327
- Munz, P. A. & D. D. Keck. 1959. Cal. Fl. 1–1681. University of California Press, Berkeley. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1717
- Flora of China Editorial Committee. 2006. Fl. China 22: 1–733. Science Press & Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing & St. Louis. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1029690
- Pavlick, L. E., A. M. Planchuelo, P. M. Peterson & R. J. Soreng. 2003. Bromus. In Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae): IV. Subfamily Pooideae. Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 48: 154–191. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1003633
- Camara Hernández, J. 1970. Bromus. In: A. L. Cabrera, Gramíneas. 4(2): 85–101. In A. L. Cabrera Fl. Prov. Buenos Aires. Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria, Buenos Aires. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/20505
- Planchuelo, A. M. & P. M. Peterson. 2000. The species of Bromus (Poaceae: Bromeae) in South America. 89–101. In Grasses: Syst. Evol. CSIRO, Melbourne. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1016969
- Acedo, C. & F. Llanos. 1999. The genus Bromus L. (Poaceae) in the Iberian Peninsula. Phanerog. Monogr. 22: 1–293. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1017832
- Adolfo Maria, H. 1966. Nóm. Pl. Recol. Valle Cochabamba 2: 17–86. Colegio La Salle, Cochabamba. http://www.tropicos.org/Reference/1018799
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Field brome does best on medium textured soils that are moderately well-drained to well-drained. It has done well in lowlands subject to flooding and on sloping, gravelly soils. The most suitable pH range is between 6.0 and 7.0.
Field brome can be found throughout the United States. For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.
Catalog Number: US 865512A
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): Collector unknown
Locality: Dans les Champs et les Pres., France, Europe
- Type fragment: Lamarck, J. B. A. 1778. Fl. Francisc. 3: 607.
Habitat & Distribution
The best seeding date for field brome is mid-August in the North to early September in the South. When used as a cover crop in cropland, field brome is usually seeded at the time of the last cultivation. Field brome should be seeded for orchard cover on a firm seedbed. Seeding rate is 10 pounds per acre. Rolling, cultipacking, or cultivating after broadcast seeding is essential for a uniform stand. Field brome is a heavy user of nitrogen and best growth is produced when nitrogen is available. The light, fluffy seed of field brome may cause some planting difficulties. The seed is best applied using a power driven cyclone type seeder with an agitator. A cultipacker seeder or a grain drill with a positive type feed may be used for planting.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Bromus arvensis
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Bromus arvensis
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).
Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
'Svalof's Sleipner' is the only released variety of field bromegrass. Most seed produced in this country can be traced to this variety.
Nitrogen application is not essential for cover crop use, but supplemental nitrogen may be added to increase growth and to speed up breakdown of the heavy sod after plowing. Without adequate nitrogen the succeeding crop, particularly vegetables, may show nitrogen deficiency. This grass can be heavily grazed in late fall and again in the spring for 6 to 8 weeks.
When managed as a reseeding annual in orchards, the stand should be disked in the spring before seedheads are produced, leaving only 10 percent of the stand to produce seed. This will provide ample seed to re-establish the stand the following fall. After seed maturity, the entire stand can be disked under.
This plant may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed. Please consult with your local NRCS Field Office, Cooperative Extension Service office, or state natural resource or agriculture department regarding its status and use. Weed information is also available from the PLANTS Web site at plants.usda.gov.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Field brome is used primarily as a winter cover crop on vegetable lands and in orchards in the Northeast. Due to its heavy root growth and low, dense top growth, it gives good protection against wind and water erosion. The heavy root growth makes it a useful green manure crop. When used as a cover plant, it provides good pasturage for Canada geese, especially in the spring.
Bromus pubescens, common name hairy woodland brome or hairy wood chess, is a grass species found across much of the eastern and central United States, as well as in Arizona, Québec and Ontario. 
Bromus pubescens is a perennial herb up to 1.2 m (4 feet) tall. Leaf blades are up to 30 cm (12 inches) long and 15 mm (0.6 inches) across. Spikelets are drooping, up to 3 cm (1.2 inches) long, lacking awns on the glumes.
- Prairie Moon Nursery
- Soreng, R. J., G. Davidse, P. M. Peterson, F. O. Zuloaga, E. J. Judziewicz, T. S. Filgueiras & O. N. Morrone. 2003 and onwards. On-line taxonomic novelties and updates, distributional additions and corrections, and editorial changes since the four published volumes of the Catalogue of New World Grasses (Poaceae) published in Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. vols. 39, 41, 46, and 48. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/CNWG:. In R. J. Soreng, G. Davidse, P. M. Peterson, F. O. Zuloaga, T. S. Filgueiras, E. J. Judziewicz & O. N. Morrone (eds.) Internet Catalog of New World Grasses. Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis
- Illinois Wildlowers
- New England Wildflower Society
- Pavlick, L. E. 1995. Bromus of North America 1–160. Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria.
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The flower spikelets are erect at first, later spreading to slightly drooping, 10–25 mm long; flowering is in mid summer.
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