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SPECIES:  Agrostis scabra
A stand of rough bentgrass. Image by Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired),


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Agrostis scabra. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: On 5 September 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: tickle grass to: rough bentgrass. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: AGRSCA SYNONYMS: Agrostis geminata Trin. Agrostis hyemalis (Walt.) B.S.P. var. tenuis (Tuckerm.) Gl. Agrostis scabra var. geminata (Trin.) Swallen [16,21,30,42] Agrostis scabra var. septentrionalis Fern. [10,21,35,42] NRCS PLANT CODE: AGSC5 COMMON NAMES: rough bentgrass ticklegrass hairgrass TAXONOMY: The scientific name of rough bentgrass is Agrostis scabra Willdenow (Poaceae) [21,35,41,47]. A. scabra hybridizes with A. stolonifera and A. exarata [47]. LIFE FORM: Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Rough bentgrass is distributed throughout Alaska, the continental United States (but sparingly in the Southeast), Greenland, Canada, Mexico, and Asia [2,13,17,42,47].
Distribution of rough bentgrass. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, September 5] [42].
   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES25  Larch
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES35  Pinyon - juniper
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES37  Mountain meadows
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES39  Prairie
   FRES40  Desert grasslands
   FRES41  Wet grasslands
   FRES42  Annual grasslands
   FRES44  Alpine

     AL  AK  AZ  AR  CA  CO  CT  DE  FL  GA
     HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  KS  KY  LA  ME  MD
     MA  MI  MN  MS  MO  MT  NE  NV  NH  NJ
     NM  NY  NC  ND  OH  OK  OR  PA  RI  SC
     SD  TN  TX  UT  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY
     AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE

    1  Northern Pacific Border
    2  Cascade Mountains
    3  Southern Pacific Border
    4  Sierra Mountains
    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
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   14  Great Plains
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

   K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
   K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
   K005  Mixed conifer forest
   K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
   K010  Ponderosa shrub forest
   K011  Western ponderosa forest
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K016  Eastern ponderosa forest
   K017  Black Hills pine forest
   K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
   K019  Arizona pine forest
   K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest
   K023  Juniper - pinyon woodland
   K026  Oregon oakwoods
   K037  Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub
   K038  Great Basin sagebrush
   K047  Fescue - oatgrass
   K048  California steppe
   K049  Tule marshes
   K050  Fescue - wheatgrass
   K051  Wheatgrass - bluegrass
   K052  Alpine meadows and barren
   K053  Grama - galleta steppe
   K054  Grama - tobosa prairie
   K055  Sagebrush steppe
   K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
   K057  Galleta - three-awn shrubsteppe
   K063  Foothills prairie
   K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
   K065  Grama - buffalograss
   K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass
   K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
   K068  Wheatgrass - grama - buffalograss
   K069  Bluestem - grama prairie
   K070  Sandsage - bluestem prairie
   K074  Bluestem prairie
   K075  Nebraska Sandhills prairie
   K076  Blackland prairie
   K081  Oak savanna
   K084  Cross Timbers
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K094  Conifer bog
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K098  Northern floodplain forest
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest

     1  Jack pine
     5  Balsam fir
    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    15  Red pine
    16  Aspen
    18  Paper birch
    38  Tamarack
    69  Sand pine
    70  Longleaf pine
    80  Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
    81  Loblolly pine
   107  White spruce
   201  White spruce
   202  White spruce - paper birch
   204  Black spruce
   210  Interior Douglas-fir
   212  Western larch
   216  Blue spruce
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   221  Red alder
   222  Black cottonwood - willow
   224  Western hemlock
   225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
   227  Western redcedar - western hemlock
   228  Western redcedar
   229  Pacific Douglas-fir
   230  Douglas-fir - western hemlock
   235  Cottonwood - willow
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   239  Pinyon - juniper
   244  Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir
   245  Pacific ponderosa pine
   251  White spruce - aspen
   252  Paper birch
   253  Black spruce - white spruce
   254  Black spruce - paper birch

Rough bentgrass occurs throughout a wide variety of habitats and may be a
dominant or codominant in moist meadows or on streambanks.  Published
classifications listing rough bentgrass as a dominant component of plant
associations (pas) or community types (cts) are as follows:

AREA                       CLASSIFICATION            AUTHORITY

CA: Sequoia NP             montane meadow pas        Halpern 1986

ID: Upper Salmon/Middle    riparian cts              Tuhy & Jensen 1982
Fork Salmon River


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Although rough bentgrass is a common and widespread species, the large ratio of seed head to foliage prevents it from being an important livestock forage plant.  Prior to flowering, however, cattle, sheep, and horses readily consume it [32,41]. Rough bentgrass is occasionally eaten by elk, mule deer, white-tail deer, pronghorn, small mammals, upland gamebirds, and waterfowl [8].  Moose may also graze on rough bentgrass throughout the year [26]. PALATABILITY: Rough bentgrass is considered to be relatively unpalatable to livestock but is consumed early in the season [32,33,41].  The relish and degree of use shown by livestock and wildlife in several western states is rated as follows [8]:                        UT          WY            MT             ND Cattle                good        fair          poor           fair Sheep                 fair        fair          poor           fair Horses                fair        fair          poor           fair Elk                   good        good          ----           ---- Mule deer             fair        poor          ----           ---- White-tailed deer     ----        poor          ----           poor Pronghorn             poor        poor          ----           poor Upland gamebirds      poor        fair          ----           ---- Waterfowl             poor        poor          ----           fair Small nongame birds   poor        fair          ----           ---- Small mammals         poor        fair          ----           ---- NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Rough bentgrass has been rated as fair in energy value and low in protein value [8]. COVER VALUE: In certain areas, rough bentgrass provides moderate cover for white-tailed deer, pronghorn, small mammals, upland gamebirds, and small nongame birds.  It may also provide good cover for waterfowl [8]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Rough bentgrass is a suitable candidate for revegetation programs, particularly in northern regions [43].  It has been used successfully in seeding experiments on alpine sites, where areas disturbed by grazing, recreation, and mining or mineral exploration are common [4]. Rough bentgrass is also reported to be common on abandoned coal-mine sites in Alberta [37] and has colonized industrially damaged sites near Sudbury, Ontario [19].  It naturally invades areas damaged by sulfur emissions [48] and can be found on soils with copper concentrations of 450 p/m and nickel concentrations of 500 p/m [15].  In Yellowstone National Park, rough bentgrass was seeded onto disturbed sites and after one growing season comprised 18 to 30 percent of the vegetation on test plots [29].  In revegetation trials in the Yukon Territory, seedlings emerged in the first growing season in 100 percent of seeded plots.  All plots contained viable plants 7 years later.  Eighty-six percent of plants produced seed in the second growing season, and all live plants produced seed during the seventh growing season [43].  In addition, rough bentgrass has a fibrous root system that is effective in preventing soil erosion [8,15,48]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Rough bentgrass is one of the most successful native grasses in the revegetation programs in which it has been included [29,43].  It has shown good potential for both short-term and long-term revegetation, and has low establishment requirements [8].  Rough bentgrass seed is not available commercially, but it is produced at the Plant Materials Center in Bridger, Montana [4,29].  Seed can be collected at a rate of approximately 3.3 ounces per hour (95 g/hr) [29].  Rough bentgrass produces lush growth in the first year if fertilized.  In field trials near Tent Mountain, Alberta, it produced greater than 20 percent cover in fertilized plots in the first growing season [15].  In alpine areas, seeds should be planted in the fall to avoid breaking dormancy and to allow for optimal growth in the spring [29].  Rough bentgrass is very effective at seed dispersal, and it is not necessary to plant seeds in areas where a source is nearby [15]. Rough bentgrass increases in response to grazing [46].  Because the plant is not readily grazed after flowering, it is only utilized in the spring or early summer.


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Rough bentgrass is a short-lived, perennial bunchgrass.  Culms are slender and erect, and the basal leaves are often scabrous.  The panicle is large and diffuse at maturity [1,10,30,47].  Rough bentgrass is typically 6 to 39 inches (15-100 cm) tall [10,18,23] but often reaches 50 inches (130 cm) in height [31,32].  The plant has a fibrous root system [48] but is not rhizomatous [31]. Rough bentgrass is often confused with winter bentgrass (A. hyemalis (Walt.) B.S.P.), but the latter generally flowers earlier [13]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Rough bentgrass reproduces primarily by seed but can spread laterally by stolons.  The diffuse inflorescence breaks away at maturity and can be dispersed over long distances by wind [15].  Seeds colonize recently disturbed sites with exposed mineral soil seedbeds [22]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Rough bentgrass occurs throughout a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, forest openings, grasslands, shrublands, meadows, swamps, bogs, marshes, and stream and lake margins [5,6,24,47].  It also grows on disturbed sites, such as in ditches or along roadsides, and in pastures or abandoned fields [14,24,28].  Rough bentgrass occurs from sea level to alpine zones [4,15,17].  It occupies sites as high as 12,000 feet (3,600 m) in Colorado [8].  Rough bentgrass is tolerant of a wide range of moisture regimes; it thrives in wet or moist soils and can survive seasonal stem submergence [13,15,41].  Rough bentgrass is also found in dry habitats and is a common component of semiarid grasslands and sagebrush communities [8,10,15,18]. Rough bentgrass grows well on sandy loam, loam, and clay loam soil textures [8].  It is adapted to soils that are low in nutrients and is tolerant of low pH levels [15].  Rough bentgrass shows poor growth in sodic soils [8]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Rough bentgrass is generally a pioneer or invader species [11,15,22].  It is relatively shade intolerant, and thrives in open, sunny locations [15]. Seed is widely dispersed by wind and requires bare mineral soil for establishment; seedlings are common on recently disturbed sites [15,22]. Rough bentgrass has invaded abandoned fields throughout prairie regions, and barren sandy soils near Coniston, Ontario.  It is a pioneer of dry white spruce (Picea glauca) sites near Norman Wells, Northwest Territories [15], and clearcut jack pine (Pinus banksiana) sites in Saskatchewan [7]. Once rough bentgrass becomes established, it may remain important throughout the early seral stages [22].  In boreal forest floodplain succession, rough bentgrass invades initially, and then endures through the early willow stages [25,44].  Rough bentgrass is also a component of near climax range communities in Montana [36].  In the Sierra Nevada, California, rough bentgrass is an increaser species in climax meadow vegetation [33]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Rough bentgrass flowers from June to September, depending on location [8,10,13].  Seed is shed in late summer [41].


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Wind-dispersed rough bentgrass seeds readily colonize bare mineral soil on recently burned sites [6,20,38].  Seeds may also be stored for short durations in the soil, allowing for early establishment of areas burned in the spring [11]. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:    Tussock graminoid    Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Fire generally top-kills rough bentgrass.  Specific effects on rough bentgrass mortality, however, are not well documented. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: In general, rough bentgrass increases in abundance in response to fire. Seedlings immediately colonize recently burned areas, provided a favorable seedbed has been established [27,39].  Annual spring burns in aspen stands in Alberta caused an increase in rough bentgrass inflorescence production.  In unburned areas, there was an average of one flower head per square foot (10/sq m), but on burned sites 10 flower heads per square foot (110/sq m) were produced [2].  In interior Alaska, seedlings were not found in burned plots where the organic layer had not been completely removed, although a seed source was nearby.  Seedlings were, however, abundant on adjacent firelines [45]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE: Hamilton's Research Paper and the following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of many plant species including rough bentgrass: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Agrostis scabra
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