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Downy Brome

Common Name: Downy brome

Scientific Name: Bromus tectorum

Habitat: dry grassland, roadsides, farmland, disturbed areas

Provincial Designation: Noxious

Noxious weeds are plant species designated in the Alberta Weed Control Act. Noxious weeds must be controlled, meaning their growth or spread needs to be prevented.


Downy brome is native to southern Europe and southwest Asia. It was introduced to North America through contaminated crop seed and ship ballasts. It was also used in reclamation seed mixes because of its ability to establish quickly in dry soil.

Legislated Because

This grass species invades rangeland where it is highly competitive against native grass species, especially after wildfires and over-grazing.


Downy brome is a slender annual grass that grows 10-70 cm tall. The flowers are drooping and one sided. The awns are 12-15 mm long (awns are the hair-like ends of the individual grass seeds). The first glume has one nerve - a glume is a leaf-like structure at the bottom of the seed heads.

All parts of the plant usually have soft hairs, including the main stem within the seed head. The entire plant often turns purple in the fall.

This species is very similar to Japanese brome. Downy brome likes dry and open areas and can be found together with Medusahead, another invasive species.

Also known as “Cheatgrass”.

Can Be Confused With ...

Many native and ornamental grass species … 

Japanese Brome - Also noxious 

Downy Brome has not yet been found in Edmonton, though it has rarely been identified around the province and often in the dry grasslands of southern Alberta.  Please keep your eyes out for it and report to when in doubt.

Learn more about this species:

See Fact Sheet - Alberta Invasive Species Council

For More Information

Weed Identification


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


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