Downy Chess

Downy_Chess_jpgThe Poaceae family is commonly called the grass family.  This genusBromus is the Greek name for Oat.  The species tectorum means “of roofs” and refers to its use as thatch. There are 36 bromegrasses or bromes in the United States—about half the number in the world.  The genus is best represented in the Far West on open ranges.  A few species of bromegrasses are annuals and are known as “Chess” or “Cheat”.  Downy Chess is one of these. The common name “Downy” refers to the hairy panicles of Downy Chess. Downy Chess is a weed of sterile soils, banks, ledges, fields and waste ground. The ripe plant yields dye.  The good sized seeds are eaten by waterfowl, upland gamebirds, songbirds and small mammals.  The leaves or other parts of the plants are consumed by game mammals and hoofed browsers, especially while the plant is young.

 

OtherCommonName:

Downy Chess Grass, Downy Brome Grass

ScientificName:

Bromus tectorum

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Naturalized from Europe

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

1 ¼ feet

FruitingTime:

Old fruit may persist to October

Distribution:

Quebec to Virginia ~ Statewide in New Jersey

FloweringTime:

Late April to late June, mostly in May and June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Stems hairy ~ Panicle (inflorescence) dense, long with spreading branches, often with several spikelets ~ Fruit abundant Consider the often quoted rhyme when identifying grasses (Poaceae): “Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses have joints from their tips to the ground.”