Common names (selected) English: broncograss, cheatgrass, downy brome, downy chess, drooping brome, early chess, gas station grass, June grass, thatch grass, soft chess, wall brome; Chinese: 旱雀麦 (dry brome); French: brome des toits; German: Dachtrespe; Portuguese (Brazil): bromo-felpudo, bromo-pendente, capim-cevadinha; Spanish: bromo velloso, espiguilla colgante
Description: Winter annual grass. B. tectorum has an excellent long-distance seed dispersal mechanism through contamination of crop species and through attachment to fur, hair, clothing, and vehicles.
Native regions and distribution: Native to temperate and tropical Asia, Europe, and north Africa. It is now found throughout North and South America, northern Mexico, Greenland, Iceland, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. It is considered in invasive in the western U.S. where it promotes fires and has displaced many native grasses.
Urban habitat: Drought tolerant, thrives in sandy and compacted soils, it is commonly found in pavement openings, roadsides, waste dumps, minimally maintained landscapes, highway banks and medians, and along railroad tracks.
Ecological function: Disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground. Food for many species of wildlife and insects.
History human uses: B. tectorum was introduced into North America several times both accidentally, via ship ballast, and deliberately. The completion of the trans-continental railroad in 1868 and the subsequent development of regional railroad networks greatly enhanced the rate of spread of exotic weed species in western North America. By 1900, it had spread to much of its current range. The grass was traditionally used in Europe for thatched roofs. 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. A coffee can be from its roasted seeds. B. tectorum can maintain dominance for many years on sites where native vegetation has been eliminated or severely reduced by grazing, cultivation, or fire. It is highly adapted to a regime of frequent fires and is considered an agricultural weed in winter wheat and barley. B. tectorum probably has the highest name recognition among exotic, invasive weeds in the western U.S. and even suburban and urban residents fear wildfires fueled by it. The seeds often cause injury to the ears, eyes and mouths of pets such as dogs and horses as well as to humans.