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Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á. Löve
Poaceae (Grass Family)
Synonym(s): Agropyron molle, Agropyron smithii, Agropyron smithii var. molle, Agropyron smithii var. palmeri, Elymus smithii, Elytrigia smithii, Elytrigia smithii var. mollis
USDA Symbol: PASM
Western Wheatgrass is a 15-30 in., cool-season, sod-forming, perennial grass. Its dense, narrow, 3-6 in. spikes occur at the top of stout culms. The entire plant is often covered with a white coating, lending a silvery caste to its blue-green leaves. The leaves are less than a quarter inch wide and, when dry, roll up longitudinally to display prominent ridges on the tops.
This densely colonizing turf grass is commonly found in western North America in low-lying areas subject to seasonal poor drainage. During wet times, this grass becomes aggressive and can crowd out neighboring grasses and forbs. For this reason, and for its silvery blue-green leaves, Western Wheatgrass is favored for erosion control. It covers so thickly, however, that it is not the best choice for a wildflower meadow. It wont allow many other plants room.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: May , Jun
, WY Canada: AB
, SK Native Distribution:
Ont. to B.C., s. to KY, TX, AZ
& e. of the Cascades to n.e. CA Native Habitat:
Hillsides; bottomlands; canyons; open woods; prairies; scrubland. Often in swales and ditches with seasonal poor drainage.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, alkaline clay, loam, sand.
Conditions Comments: Thrives in seasonal poor drainage and high-rainfall years, when it can become aggressive enough to crowd out many other grasses and forbs.
BenefitUse Ornamental: A blue-green turf grass that can be mowed
Use Other: Widely used for erosion control
Root Division , Seeds Description:
Increase is easiest by rhizome
division. Seeds have poor germination. Seed Treatment:
A KNO3 enrichment enhances germination but is not necessary. Commercially Avail:
If gets too aggressive, reduce water.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Plants to stop erosion in Arizona
January 17, 2009
I'm looking for a plant to stop erosion; I have big wash outs that are starting to erode my yard so I guess I'm looking for deep rooting plants. I live south of Tucson, Arizona. If you can advise me...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2009-03-21
Research By: TWC Staff