SPECIES: Leymus salinus

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Leymus salinus: INTRODUCTORY


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
Anderson, Michelle D. 2004. Leymus salinus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].


Elymus salinus M.E. Jones [19,22,34,35,69]
        = Leymus salinus (M.E. Jones) A. Love ssp. salinus [33]


Salina wildrye
Salinus wildrye
saline wildrye
salt wildrye

The currently accepted scientific name of Salina wildrye is Leymus salinus (M.E. Jones) A. Love (Poaceae) [10,33,41,68].

Salina wildrye subspecies are as follows:

Leymus salinus ssp. salinus
Leymus salinus (M.E. Jones) A. Love ssp. mohavensis Barkworth & Atkins [10,30,33]
Leymus salinus (M.E. Jones) A. Love ssp. salmonis (C.L. Hitchc.) Atkins [10,30,33]

Salina wildrye (ssp. salmonis) hybridizes with bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), though resulting plants are sterile [32].


No special status

Salina wildrye has "Watch" status in Utah (regionally endemic but without rangewide viability concern) [63], and is considered rare in Nevada [34].


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
Salina wildrye is distributed throughout the Great Basin, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain states, extending from California east to Colorado and New Mexico, and north to Montana. However, the range of each subspecies varies [33]. L. s. ssp. mohavensis is found primarily in California and Arizona [30,33], though it is also reported in Colorado, Nevada and Utah [30].L. s. ssp. salinus occurs throughout the range of Salina wildrye except in California and Idaho, while L. s. ssp. salmonis occurs in Idaho, Nevada, and western Utah [6,33].

Plants database provides a distributional map of Salina wildrye and its infrataxa.

FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES40 Desert grasslands

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)

5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau

K011 Western ponderosa forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking
K053 Grama-galleta steppe
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass

217 Aspen
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
237 Interior ponderosa pine
239 Pinyon-juniper

302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
404 Threetip sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
414 Salt desert shrub
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
419 Bittercherry
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
501 Saltbush-greasewood
502 Grama-galleta
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association

Salina wildrye commonly occurs in salt desert shrub, desert shrub, sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grass, pinyon (Pinus spp.)-juniper (Juniperus spp.), mountain brush, ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa), and aspen (Populus tremuloides) communities [69].

Salina wildrye is often a dominant grass in Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) and pinyon-juniper communities [19]. In Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis) -Utah juniper (J. osteosperma) stands, Salina wildrye occurs with black sagebrush (A. nova), plains prickly-pear (Opuntia polyacantha), Fremont's goosefoot (Chenopodium fremontii), nodding buckwheat (Eriogonum cernuum), and Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides) [27]. In singleleaf pinyon (P. monophylla)-Utah juniper/ Rocky Mountain juniper (J. scopulorum) it occurs with bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus) [37]. Other common species in pinyon-juniper communities include Ross' sedge (Carex rossii), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata), galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii), mutton grass (Poa fendleriana), and Sandberg bluegrass (P. secunda) [61].

In true mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) types, Salina wildrye occurs with Fremont's goosefoot, nodding buckwheat, and Indian ricegrass [27]. In curlleaf mountain-mahogany (C. ledifolius) communities, common associates are Indian ricegrass, blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana) [60]. In the Great Basin desert shrub communities, Salina wildrye is commonly found with winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), Indian ricegrass, galleta, globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), black sagebrush, budsage (A. spinescens), fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), bottlebrush squirreltail, and dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.) [31].

Salina wildrye may codominate with Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis), shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), or Gardner's saltbush (A. gardneri) in Colorado [8,9].

Classifications identifying Salina wildrye as a plant community dominant include the following:

Colorado [8]
Utah [70]


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
The following description of Salina wildrye provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [10,19,68,69]).

Salina wildrye is a native perennial grass [10,19,33,69]. It grows in dense tufts that are mostly erect and 13 to 55 inches (35-140 cm) tall [10,19,69].

Salina wildrye leaves are primarily basal, 0.04 to 0.2 inch (1-5 mm) wide, and may be flat or more often strongly involute [10,19,22,69]. Leaves are glabrous to rarely pubescent [19,69]. The slender, erect spikes are 1.6 to 6 inches (4-15 cm) long and 0.1 to 0.3 inch (2.5-8 mm) wide [10,19,69]. Spikelets are usually solitary at nodes, but occasionally occur in pairs at some or all nodes [10,19,68]. Spikelets are 0.35 to 0.8 inch (9-20 mm) long with 2 to 6 flowers [10,19,69].

Salina wildrye is occasionally rhizomatous [10,69]. Rhizomes are generally stout and short [10,22,69], though they may also be well-developed [69]. Some controversy exists as to the consistency with which Salina wildrye exhibits a rhizomatous growth habit. Cronquist and others [19] describe large Salina wildrye bunches that give the appearance of being nonrhizomatous, especially when growing on heavy clay soils; however, under close inspection, short rhizomes are apparent.


Little information on the regeneration processes of Salina wildrye is presently available, though it apparently employs both sexual and vegetative modes of reproduction [47].

Breeding system: No information is available on this topic.

Pollination: No information is available on this topic.

Seed production: Seed production of Salina wildrye has been described as "good" [47].

Seed dispersal: When established by transplant, Salina wildrye spreads readily by seeding [47].

Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.

Germination: No information is available on this topic.

Seedling establishment/growth: Limited information indicates that initial seedling establishment of Salina wildrye is not highly successful due to the combined effects of low seed germination and poor seedling vigor. Once established, however, Salina wildrye spreads readily, persists on a variety of sites [47,48] and grows rapidly [47].

Asexual regeneration: Salina wildrye spreads readily through vegetative growth [47].

Salina wildrye is found on dry slopes, steep rocky mountainsides and flat to gently sloping benches, ridges, saddles, and plateaus [9,10,19,30,35,47,64,68,69]. Other typical sites include alkaline bluffs, washes, canyon sides, and alluvial fans [9]. Soils range from fine textured clays and loams [9,19,21,68] to coarse textured sand and rock [21,69], though growth is better on intermediate soil textures than on sands or clays [21]. Atkins and others [6] suggest that subspecies salmonis is adapted to more xeric sites than subspecies salinus. Salina wildrye is drought resistant and moderately tolerant of alkaline environments [9,19,47,64], though it rarely occurs on low-lying alkaline sites [69].

Though some authors report that Salina wildrye is restricted to a narrow elevational range [37], it actually occurs from just over 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet (1,200-3,050 m), indicating a wide range of occurrence [9,21,30,34,35,69]. Elevational ranges for Salina wildrye are presented by state below:

Arizona 5,000 feet (1,525 m) [35]
California 4,430-6,650 feet (1,350-2,000 m) [30]
Colorado 5,200-8,500 feet (1,585-2,590 m) [21]
Nevada 5,000-6,500 feet (1,525-1,980 m) [34]
Utah 4,990-10,000 feet (1,520-3,050 m) [21,69]
Wyoming 8,200 feet (2,500 m) [21]

Self-perpetuating stands of Salina wildrye are characteristic of late successional or climax shrubland communities throughout the upper Colorado River Basin [9], though it is rarely found in pure stands [6].

The phenological development of Salina wildrye has not been widely documented. Flowering occurs from May through July [21].


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
Fire adaptations: According to a review by Bradley and others [16], Salina wildrye can survive fire via its root crown and rhizomes [16]. However, no experimental evidence is available.

Fire regimes: Little is known regarding the specific relationship between Salina wildrye and fire. Salina wildrye rarely occurs in pure stands [6]; it is generally found as a minor or occasionally dominant component of several plant communities. Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which Salina wildrye occurs are summarized below. For more information on the fire regimes of these communities, see the FEIS species summary for the dominant species listed below.

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [29,49,72]
sagebrush steppe Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [45]
basin big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata 12-43 [53]
mountain big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana 15-40 [3,17,44]
Wyoming big sagebrush Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40**) [65,73]
saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus < 35 to < 100
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 5-100 [45]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. < 35 [45,72]
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii < 35 [45,52,72]
blue grama-buffalo grass Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides < 35 [45,72]
grama-galleta steppe Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii < 35 to < 100
blue grama-tobosa prairie Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis mutica < 35 to < 100 [45]
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum < 10 [46,71]
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1,000 [5,54]
mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii < 35 to < 100
blackbrush Coleogyne ramosissima < 35 to < 100
Arizona cypress Cupressus arizonica < 35 to 200
western juniper Juniperus occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum < 35 [45]
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii < 5-47+ [45,49,72]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. < 35 [45]
Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. latifolia 25-340 [11,12,59]
Colorado pinyon Pinus edulis 10-400+ [24,26,36,45]
Jeffrey pine Pinus jeffreyi 5-30 [2]
interior ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [2,7,40]
Arizona pine Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica 2-15 [7,18,55]
galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea < 35 to < 100 [45]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) Populus tremuloides 7-120 [2,28,43]
mesquite Prosopis glandulosa < 35 to < 100 [42,45]
mesquite-buffalo grass Prosopis glandulosa-Buchloe dactyloides < 35 [45]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (10**) [1,2]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [2,3,4]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. < 35 to < 200 [45]
oak savanna Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [45,67]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. < 35 [45]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Caudex/herbaceous root crown, growing points in soil
Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
Secondary colonizer (on-site or off-site seed sources)


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
Though Salina wildrye is presumably top-killed by fire, little information exists in the literature concerning the effects of fire on Salina wildrye.

No additional information is available on this topic.

Salina wildrye's response to fire is poorly documented, though a review by Bradley and others [16] states it generally has a surviving root crown and rhizomes. Basin wildrye (L. cinereus), another cool-season bunchgrass native to the western United States, exhibits growth form similar to that of Salina wildrye, establishing dense culms reaching nearly 6 feet (2 m) tall. Basin wildrye displays the same fire survival strategy, so its response to fire may offer insight into Salina wildrye's response to fire. Basin wildrye has high survival rates following fire due to resprouting from the surviving root crown and rhizomes [15,38,50]. It recovers rapidly, especially after dormant-season fires [15]. For more information regarding fire effects and plant response of basin wildrye , see the FEIS species summary. The extent to which this information can be applied to Salina wildrye is unknown, and more research is needed regarding both the effect of fire on Salina wildrye and its response to fire.

No additional information is available on this topic.

No additional information is available on this topic.


SPECIES: Leymus salinus
Little information is available concerning livestock and wildlife utilization of Salina wildrye, though it is utilized by domestic sheep [31] and presumably other grazing animals. Because it grows in dense bunches, the quantity of forage produced by Salina wildrye is moderately high [64].

Palatability/nutritional value: Salina wildrye provides a moderate amount of fair quality, coarse forage during the growing season, but is unpalatable when mature and dried [64,69]. Palatability has been rated poor to good for sheep and fair to good for cattle and horses [21]. The following table presents nutritional information of Salina wildrye sampled in Utah [57]:

Cal./kg % protein % carbohydrate % fat % ash % moisture
2,750 12.5 55.9 0.60 24.1 6.9

Cover value: Salina wildrye cover value has been rated poor to fair for mule deer, poor to good for upland game birds, and fair to good for small nongame birds and small mammals [21].

Salina wildrye may be useful for revegetating burned [6] or otherwise disturbed areas [47]. It establishes moderately well from transplants, and will spread by seed once established [47]. Salina wildrye is valuable for soil stabilization on steep, erosive clay hillsides [64].

No information is available on this topic.

Field trials in the eastern Central Great Plains demonstrated that Salina wildrye has high survivability and forage production potential, perhaps indicating usefulness in livestock production [66]. However, excessive livestock grazing may decrease Salina wildrye success [9].

Salina wildrye increases in density following shrub overstory removal [60].

Leymus salinus: References

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2. Arno, Stephen F. 2000. Fire in western forest ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 97-120. [36984]

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