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Learning to live with cheatgrass: Giving up or a necessary paradigm shift?

Posted date: September 16, 2014
Publication Year: 
2014
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Rangelands. 36(2): 32-36.

Abstract

Natural ecosystems in the semiarid West face many stressors. Among the most challenging are those associated with invasive plant species. One invader that has had great impact over the last 100 years is the annual grass known as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). A few years ago, I made two observations that both confirmed and broadened my perception of this plant. In the first, I saw it growing on sodden roofs in an historic community near the Mississippi River. I was reminded that the scientific name roughly means "brome grass that grows on roofs" and I gained insight into its long coexistence with humans. Later that day I observed a plant growing in the mud on the bank of the river. I pondered about what that place could possibly have in common with the vast shrublands of the semiarid West where cheatgrass has become so entrenched. Recently I found plants growing directly from the smallest of cracks in massive limestone slabs in the deserts of western Utah (Fig. 1). Reflexively I pondered, "Is there any place on earth cheatgrass cannot grow?"

Citation

Kitchen, Stanley G. 2014. Learning to live with cheatgrass: Giving up or a necessary paradigm shift? Rangelands. 36(2): 32-36.