Downy brome, also commonly known as cheatgrass, is a summer or winter annual, 4 to 30 inches tall, reproducing by seed. Leaf sheaths and flat blades are densely covered with soft hair. Ligules are short. Inflorescence is dense, slender, usually drooping, 1-sided, 2 to 6 inches long. Spikelets are nodding, slender 3/8 to 3/4 inch long. Awns are 3/8 to 5/8 inch long, usually purplish at maturity.
Downy brome is primarily a weed of roadsides, fencerows, waste areas, pastures, rangelands, hay fields,and occasionally winter small grain crops. Although downy brome is considered an invader, on certain intermountain ranges it has become the primary green forage utilized by livestock. The plant competes with more desirable perennial grasses for moisture because of its winter and early spring growth habit. After maturity it becomes a nuisance and a fire hazard. It is also a common crop seed contaiminant very difficult to separate from grass seed.
Downy brome was introduced from the Mediterranean region in packing material and ws first found near Denver Colorado. It is now widely distributed throughout North America, except in the extreme southeast.
May through July