Bromus tectorum winter or spring annual C3 grass (Williams et al. 2011), 20-70 cm tall, from fibrous roots to 30 cm deep, stems tufted, slender, often nodding, much branched, hairless; plant becoming wine-red as seeds ripen, then tan; lower sheaths hairy, upper sheaths smooth, ligule membranous, 0.1-0.2 cm long.
Leaves alternate, blades 0.2-0.4 cm wide, to 16 cm long, hairy.
Flower spikelets 1-2 cm long not including awns, hairy, 3-8 flowered, on slender stems; glumes needle-shaped, the first 0.5-0.7 cm, second 0.8-1.1 cm; lemma lance-shaped, hairy, 0.8-1.2 cm, awns 1-1.7 cm, arising from between apical teeth; inflorescence 10-20 cm long, openly branched, hairy, drooping, pale gray-green, becoming purplish; blooming and fruiting May-June; highly self fertile, little outcrossing,
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in NYC: Occasional. Probably more common along roadsides than inventory indicates.
Habitat: Frequently disturbed, open areas, roadsides, fill. Less common in natural areas.
Notes: Seeds dispersed by awns that attach to fur and clothing. Also dispersed short distances by wind and by human activity. Seeds in soil loose viability in about two years. Seeds usually germinate in autumn and overwinter as seedlings while continuing root growth. Dry plants very flammable, leaving soil vulnerable to erosion. Tends to prevent establishment of perennials by extracting soil moisture, shading and crowding. Tolerates infertile soils. Foliage may be eaten by mites (Acari) and thrips (Thysanoptera) but apparently is not a favored food of many invertebrates. Infected by Ustilago bulleta (head smut, Basidiomycotina), Puccinia recondita (leaf rust, Basidiomycotina) and Claviceps purpurea (ergot, Ascomycotina) (Upadhyaya et al. 1986). Very similar to B. sterilis.