Form: Single-stemmed grass
Height: 8 to 24 inches
Seedhead: Dense, drooping form 1 ½ to 8 inches long; pale green to purplish
Seeds: Prolific seed producer that outcompetes native grass seedlings. Can produce in excess of 300 seeds per plant that remain viable for 2 to 5 years. Sharp-tipped seeds that collect in your clothes.
Stems: Erect and slender
Leaves: Flat, downy, hairy
Roots: Fine fibrous root system. Roots grow faster and deeper than bluebunch wheatgrass at lower temperatures, giving it a competitive edge, especially in disturbed areas.
Ecology: Very common plant in the shrub-steppe region. Valuable for forage. Provides some of the earliest green feed available to deer on some winter ranges. Although cheatgrass seed may be safe from most wildfires, the standing plant material provides a greater danger for increased incidence of wildfires in the landscape, shortening the fire cycle. Wherever native plants are removed, cheatgrass often takes over. This invasive species simplifies the environment and acts against the diversity of the plant community, which is not good for insect and wildlife diversity.
Weed control: Fire, mowing, grazing, tillage, and inter-seeding of competitive native plants. Herbicides. Biological control is limited.