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Patrick Alexander @http://swbiodiversity.org
Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Leymus cinereus - basin wildrye

Synonyms: Elymus cinereus

Other Common Names: Great Basin wildrye, giant wildrye, Great Basin lyme grass

Plant Form:Grass

Family: Poaceae

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Patrick Alexander @http://swbiodiversity.org
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Patrick Alexander @http://swbiodiversity.org
  Grass Description -   Glossary of Grass Terminology

Origin: Native    Season: Warm
Habitat Description: Grows along streams, gullies, and roadsides, gravelly to sandy areas in sagebrush and open woodlands, moderately dry open places.
Plant Communities: Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Riparian, Disturbed Areas
Elevation: 1950 - 9500 feet

General Description

Desc: Robust plants grow in clumps 1 to 3 feet wide, are rhizomatous and usually bright green. Stems are hairy, up to 7 feet tall, 1/4 inch thick and densely arranged. Basin wildrye is the largest cool-season perennial bunchgrass native to the western U.S.
Identification notes: Strongly tufted; seedheads are thick spikes with mostly 2 to 4 spikelets per node; lemmas hairy, awnless or awned tipped, blades 3 to 12 mm wide; culms 70 to 270 cm tall.
Grass Type: Perennial bunchgrass  Rhizomes: Y  Stolons: N
Large Dense Clump (> 2 feet): Y  Bushy (highly branched): N
Height with Seedheads: Greater than 36 inches
Seedhead Structure: Unbranched  Seedhead Droops: N
Flowering Period: Jun - Aug

Flower Characteristics

Number of Flowers per Spikelet: Multi-flowered  Spikelets One-sided: N
Awns: Less than 1/4 inch   Three Awns: N  Awns Bent: N

Flower and Seedhead Notes: Seedheads 6 to 10 inches long, dense, unbranched cylindrical spike with up to 35 nodes, each node having 2 to 7 spikelets per node, spikelets 3 to 7 flowered.

Vegetative Characteristics

Blade Hairy: N  Blade with White Margin: N  Blade Cross Section: Flat or involute  
Blade Notes: Basin wildrye has leaf blades 15 to 25 inches long and up to 3/4 inch wide.
Sheath Hairy: Y  Tuft of Hairs Top of Sheath or Collar: N  Ligules: Membranous
Auricles (Ear-like lobes at base of blades): Y
Vegetative Notes: Sheaths are smooth or hairy with prominent clasping pointed auricles. Ligules are membranous, collar shaped and up to 1/4 inch long. Short or no rhizomes.

Forage Value: The early growth and abundant production of basin wildrye make it a valuable source of forage for livestock and wildlife.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 8.0  
Last Updated: Feb 16, 2020  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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