Great Basin Wild Rye

Scientific Name
Great Basin Wild Rye
Scientific Pronunciation
LEE-mus sin-EER-ee-us
Plant Family
Plant Origin
Plant Type
Additional Common Names
Basin Wildrye, Giant Wild Rye

Form: Bunch grass; tall, native large wild rye. Largest cool-season perennial bunchgrass native to the western United States. Forms large clumps with dense spikes that resemble wheat.

Height: 3 to 5 feet

Seedhead: Thick bristly 6-inch flower spikes

Seeds: Reproduces by seed and rhizomes

Stems: Dense spikes that resemble wheat

Leaves: Up to 0.8 inch wide

Roots: Extensive soil-binding, fibrous root system, pushing as deep as 6 feet and as wide as 3 feet

Ecology: Thrives in moist, alkaline soils, though it is adapted to a wide range of other soil types. High water-use efficiency. Established stands can survive long periods of summer drought. Tolerant of partial shade. Grows in both disturbed and undisturbed soils.

Fire tolerance: Coarseness of foliage resists prolonged burning. Plants sprout from surviving root crowns and rhizomes.

Uses: Seeds were collected, roasted, winnowed, and ground to flour. Dried stalks were used for floor coverings and leaves sometimes used in weaving.