Bromus tectorum

Downy Brome, cheatgrass, downy chess, early chess, thatch grass, gas station grass, drooping brome, broncograss, soft chess

Description: winter annual 

Place of origin: Eurasia and North Africa 

Urban habitat: drought tolerant, thrives in sandy and compacted soils; commonly found in pavement openings, roadsides, waste dumps, minimally maintained landscapes, highway banks and medians, along railroad tracks. 

Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground.

History: Bromus tectorum was traditionally used in Europe for thatched roofs and was introduced into North America several times both accidentally, via ship ballast, and deliberately. By 1900, it had spread to much of its current range. It is now found throughout North America, northern Mexico, Greenland, in temperate south America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is considered in invasive in the western US where it promotes fires and has displaced many native grasses. A paste made from its seeds has been used as a poultice to relieve chest pain and the Cahuilla Native American tribe consumed the cooked seed in times of food shortage. The Navajo used an infusion of the plant ceremonially and used it as spring forage grass for sheep and horses.