Comprehensive Description

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General: Grass Family (Poaceae). It is a long-lived, cool season, drought tolerant, introduced, and winter hardy grass with an extensive root system. Related species include the following: Desert wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum) and Siberian wheatgrass (Agropyron fragile).

Spike 2 to 7 cm long. The spikelets more widely spreading with the glumes somewhat contoured, gradually tapering into awns 2 to 5 mm long. Fairway or crested wheatgrass has short-broad spikes that taper at the top, smaller seeds, grows shorter, and has finer leaves and stems than desert wheatgrass. Desert wheatgrass has longer spikes than fairway, but vary in spike shape from comb-like to oblong. Fairway and desert grow from 1 to 3 feet tall with seed spikes 1.5 to 3 inches long. Spikelets are flattened, closely overlapping, oriented at a slight angle on the rachis. The lemmas are linear-lanceolate narrowing to a short awn. Glumes are awl shaped and firm, and keeled. Culms are erect. Leaves are flat, smooth below, slightly scabrous (coarse) above and vary in width from 2 to 6 mm. Siberian is very similar to fairway and desert, but has finer leaves and stems, narrower and awnless glumes and lemmas, and the spikelets are more ascending, which gives the spike a narrow, oblong, sub-cylindrical shape. Siberian is more droughts tolerant and retains its greenness and palatability later into the summer than either desert or fairway.


Public Domain

USDA, NRCS, Idaho State Office

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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