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Downy Brome

Scientific Name

Bromus tectorum L. (ITIS)

Common Name

Downy brome, bronco grass, downy chess, drooping brome, June grass, early chess, military chess, cheatgrass

Native To
Date of U.S. Introduction
Means of Introduction

Introduced accidentally as a seed contaminant (Bartlett et al. 2002)


Crowds out native grasses (Mosley et al. 1999); creates wildfire hazards (Colorado State Parks 2005)

Downy brome
Image use policy

Cheatgrass, features; ligule


Photo by Fred Fishel; University of Missouri

Find more images


  • Fiery Invasions: Around the World, Flammable Invasive Grass are Increasing the Risks of Damaging Wildfires

    • Aug 4, 2023
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science. Science.

    • Fire-friendly grasses have invaded new habitats around the world. Five species (cheatgrass, cogon grass, gamba grass, molasses grass, and buffelgrass) are considered among the most problematic grasses, threatening to transform entire ecosystems.

  • The Greening of the Great Basin

    • Dec 28, 2022
    • JSTOR Daily.

    • The arid and semiarid Great Basin of the western United States comprises parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon and can variously be described by its hydrology, topography, or biology. Biologically, the area has been defined historically by the native sagebrush and shrubs that thrive in the dry valleys of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. But, as a recent study undertaken by researchers at the University of Montana and the Department of Agriculture notes, these native plant communities are rapidly being colonized by nonnative annual grasses like cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), red brome (B. rubens), and medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) to the detriment of wildlife and humans.

  • Firefighting Cattle: Targeted Grazing Makes Firebreaks in Cheatgrass

    • Oct 1, 2020
    • United States Department of Agriculture.

    • Cattle grazing on a nearly half mile wide targeted strip of cheatgrass near Beowawe, Nevada, created a firebreak that helped limit a rangeland fire to just 54 acres this past August compared to rangeland fires that more commonly race across thousands of acres of the Great Basin. This "targeted grazing" firebreak and eight others are part of an evaluation project being managed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), partnering with other federal, state and local agencies and local cattle ranchers in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. These demonstration sites are being studied so the concept's efficacy and environmental impacts can be uniformly evaluated and compared.

      Cheatgrass, also known as downy brome, is an invasive annual that dominates more than 100 million acres of the Great Basin in the western U.S. Germinating each winter, cheatgrass grows furiously in spring and dies in early summer, leaving the range carpeted in golden dry tinder. The Great Basin now has the nation's highest wildfire risk, and rangeland fires are outpacing forest fires when it comes to acreage destroyed.

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
International Government
State and Local Government