Stout annual or short-lived perennial to 1 m; blades flat and broad, 3-12 mm wide; ligule 2.5-5 mm; panicles 10-30 cm, loosely contracted; spikelets (16-)20-30(-35) mm, 4-12-fld, strongly compressed; glumes lanceolate, acuminate, strongly keeled, the first 8-11.5 mm, 3-veined, the second 9-13 mm, 5-veined; lemmas 12-20 mm, keeled, closely overlapping, glabrous (at least below) between the 11-13 long-ciliate veins; awns to 2.5 mm, or none; palea half as long as the lemma; 2n=28, 42, 56. Native of S. Amer., widely cult. for forage in warm regions, and occasionally intr. or escaped in the s. part of our range, n. to N.Y. and Mo. (B. unioloides; B. willdenowii)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
Common Name: rescuegrass Duration: Annual Nativity: Non-Native Lifeform: Graminoid General: Winter annual or biennial grass with erect to spreading stems 30-120 cm tall. Vegetative: Sheaths retrorsley soft pubescent, the hairs sometimes confined to the throat; ligules long, up to 5 mm, glabrous to pilose, irregularly toothed; auricles small; blades flat, thin, 4-30 cm long, 4-8 mm broad, usually glabrous. Inflorescence: Contracted or open panicle, erect or nodding, 9-28 cm; spikelets large, mostly 2-4 cm long and with 5-12 florets, strongly laterally compressed; first glume 3-5 nerved, second glume 7-9 nerved; lemma strongly compressed laterally, 1-2 cm long, glabrous or scabrous, often with a hyaline margin, with 9-13 raised and riblike veins, awnless or with an awn shorter than 4 mm. Ecology: Found mainly as a weed in laws, gardens, roadsides from 4,000-7,000 ft (1219-2134 m); flowers February-June. Distribution: Thought to be native to S. Amer; introduced to much of N. Amer. except the NW, midwest and e CAN; south through MEX; Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. Notes: A variable plant in height and growth form with leaves mostly in a basal tuft. Distinguished from other bromes by the strongly flattened spikelets and lack of awns. FNA recognizes 2 varieties: material from the southwest belongs to var. catharicus, which is awnless or has short awns up to 3.5 mm; var. elatus is found in central California and has awns up to 1 cm. Ethnobotany: Seeds parched, ground into flour and used to make bread and mush; also used as fodder for livestock. Etymology: Bromus is from Greek bromo, for stinking; catharticus is from Greek katharos, pure, or kathartes, a purifier, cleanser. Synonyms: Bromus brevis, B. haenkeanus, B. unioloides, B. willdenowii, Ceratochloa cathartica, C. unioloides, C. willdenowii, Festuca unioloides Editor: SBuckley 2010, FSCoburn 2015