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SPECIES:  Elymus macrourus
Tufted wheatgrass specimens. Wikimedia Commons image by the Canadian Museum of Nature, hosted by SEINet.


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Elymus macrourus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
Revisions: On 2 October 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: thickspike wheatgrass to: tufted wheatgrass. The Taxonomy section was updated, and images were added. ABBREVIATION: ELYMAC SYNONYMS: Agropyron macrourum (Turcz.) Drobov. A. sericuem Hitchc. A. nomokonovii Pop. Roegneria macroura (Turcz.) Nevskii Triticum macroura Turcz. NRCS PLANT CODE: ELMA7 COMMON NAMES: tufted wheatgrass thickspike wheatgrass thickspike wildrye thick-spike wild-rye TAXONOMY: The scientific name of tufted wheatgrass is Elymus macrourus (Turcz.) Tsvel. [1]. There is some disagreement over this placement, however, as is apparent from the number of synonyms. There are no infrataxa. Tufted wheatgrass forms hybrids with Siberian wildrye (E. sibiricus) where they occur together. The sterile hybrid, Elymus x palmerensis Lepage, has become increasingly abundant and is common along road systems of south-central Alaska [8]. Tufted wheatgrass also forms hybrids with foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum); the resulting sterile hybrid is named hariy-lemma barley (Elyhordeum pilosilemma (Mitchell & Hodgson) Barkw.) [1,9]. Hybrids with meadow barley (Horeum brachyantherum), named Elyhordeum jordalii Melderis, also occur [6]. LIFE FORM: Graminoid FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Tufted wheatgrass occurs in northwestern North America from subarctic Alaska east to the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. It also occurs in eastern Siberia [6,10].
Distribution of tufted wheatgrass in North America. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, October 2] [18].
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES28  Western hardwoods

     AK  NT  YT



   222  Black cottonwood - willow
   235  Cottonwood - willow

Tufted wheatgrass is not used in habitat type classifications.  It occurs
in riparian stands with willows (Salix alaxensis, S. pseudocordata),
prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), western river alder (Alnus incana),
highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), northern
bedstraw (Galium boreale), alpine bluegrass (Poa alpina), common
fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), tilesius wormwood (Artemisia
tilesii), and rough bentgrass (Agrostis scabra) [7].


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: This wheatgrass is presumably grazed by both livestock and wildlife. Specific data are lacking in the literature. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Averaged first and second cut nutritional values for tufted wheatgrass are as follows [17]: percent of dry weight crude protein (N x 6.25) 16.8 phosphorus 0.215 potassium 1.78 calcium 0.39 in vitro dry matter digestibility 65.6 COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Tufted wheatgrass can be used for revegetation of disturbed sites, especially where it is desirable to establish native plants. It is valuable on sites requiring erosion control. Its ability to establish rapidly makes tufted wheatgrass useful as a nurse grass for other, more slowly growing native species [3]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: In field trials to study the forage potential of native grasses, tufted wheatgrass had high initial yields but experienced stand deterioration and serious weed infestation by the third year [17].


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Tufted wheatgrass is a native, perennial grass. It is loosely tufted and sometimes forms short rhizomes. It grows from 15 to 30 inches (40-80 cm) tall. The culms are erect and the spike is slender and narrow [6,10]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Hemicryptophyte Geophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Tufted wheatgrass reproduces by seed, with seed set rates from 83 to 100 percent [8,9]. It is self-fertile [9]. Vegetative reproduction occurs through rhizomes [6]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Tufted wheatgrass occurs on alluvial flats, riverbanks, sand and gravel bars, and less commonly on hillsides with good drainage and abundant moisture. It also occurs on coastal precipices, swales in willow woodlands, roadsides, and gravel banks [8,10,13,15]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Tufted wheatgrass appears to occur in early seral sites; it is characteristic of disturbed sites [10,13]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Tufted wheatgrass occurs on sites that are rarely disturbed by fire. As a perennial grass, it probably has the capacity to sprout after top-kill by fire. 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 Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT: Tufted wheatgrass is probably top-killed by fire and may be killed by severe fires. Specific data on the severity of fire needed to kill wheatgrass are lacking. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: As a colonizer of disturbed sites, tufted wheatgrass probably increases after fire disturbances. Specific data are lacking. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Elymus macrourus
REFERENCES: 1. Barkworth, Mary E.; Dewey, Douglas R. 1985. Genomically based genera in the perennial Triticeae of North America: identification and membership. American Journal of Botany. 72(5): 767-776. [393] 2. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 3. Densmore, Roseann V.; Dalle-Molle, Lois; Holmes, Katherine E. 1990. Restoration of alpine and subalpine plant communities in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, U.S.A. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration `89: the new management challange: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 509-519. [14720] 4. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 5. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 6. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403] 7. LeResche, R. E.; Bishop, R. H.; Coady, J. W. 1974. Distribution and habitats of moose in Alaska. Le Naturaliste Canadien. 101: 143-178. [15190] 8. Mitchell, W. W.; Hodgson, H. J. 1965. The status of hybridization between Agropyron sericeum and Elymus sibiricus in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Botany. 43: 855-859. [20871] 9. Murry, Lynn E.; Tai, William. 1980. Genome relations of Agropyron sericeum, Hordeum jubatum and their hybrids. American Journal of Botany. 67: 1374-1379. [20870] 10. Porsild, A. Erling; Cody, William J. 1980. Vascular Plants of Continental Northwest Territories, Canada. Ottawa: National Museums of Canada, National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ca. Canada. [Pages unknown]. [20868] 11. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 12. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 13. Tsvelev, N. N. 1983. Grasses of the Soviet Union. New Delhi: Oxonian Press Pvt. Ltd. [Pages unknown]. [20869] 14. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NP Flora [Data base]. Davis, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [23119] 15. Wiggins, Ira, L.; Thomas, John Hunter. 1962. A flora of the Alaskan Arctic Slope. Arctic Institute of North America, Sp. Pub. #4. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. [Pages unknown]. [20867] 16. Viereck, Leslie A. 1970. Forest succession and soil development adjacent to the Chena River in interior Alaska. Arctic and Alpine Research. 2(1): 1-26. [12466] 17. Mitchell, W. W. 1982. Forage yield and quality of indigenous and introduced grasses at Palmer, Alaska. Agronomy Journal. 74: 899-905. [16172] 18. U.S. Department of the Interior, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2018. PLANTS Database, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (Producer). Available: [34262]

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