Bromus ciliatus (Fringed Brome)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Poaceae (Grass)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist; prairies, meadows, mixed and hardwood forest, thickets, wetland edges, river and stream banks
Fruiting season:July - September
Plant height:20 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle

[photo of panicle] Flowering head is an open panicle 4 to 8 inches long, typically nodding to one side, the branches arching, drooping at the tips with 2 or more spikelets (flower clusters) per branch. Spikelets are stalked, oblong-elliptic in outline, slightly flattened, 15 to 25+ mm (to 1+ inch) long, with 4 to 9 fertile florets. One or more sterile florets may be at the tip.

[close-up of spikelet] At the base of a spikelet is a pair of bracts (glumes), both mostly hairless, the lower glume 5 to 8 mm long and 1-veined (rarely with faint lateral veins), the upper glume 7 to 10 mm long and 3-veined. Surrounding a floret is a pair of bracts (lemma and palea). Lemmas are lance-elliptic, papery, 10 to 14 mm long, 7-veined, notched at the tip forming 2 teeth, a straight awn 3 to 5 mm long arising between the teeth, and the lemma body fringed with long hairs along the edges on the lower half to 2/3. The palea is somewhat shorter than the lemma and rough along the keel. Sterile florets are like the fertile but underdeveloped.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaf hairs] Leaf blades are spreading to ascending, flat, 5 to 10 inches long, 4 to 10 mm (to 3/8 inch) wide, the lower leaves sparsely to moderately covered in long, spreading hairs, the upper leaves more often hairless or nearly so.

[photo of sheath, ligule and node] Sheath edges are fused for most of their length (a closed sheath), the lower sheaths usually covered in long, downward pointing (retrorse) hairs, sometimes hairless or nearly so, the upper sheaths often hairless. The ligule (membrane where the leaf joins the sheath) is membranous, up to about 1 mm long, jagged along the top edge and lacks a fringe of hairs. Nodes are usually hairy. Stems are single or a few from the base in a loose clump, erect to ascending, hairless or hairy just at the nodes. 

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of mature glumes and floret] Florets mature to light brown, each dropping off individually leaving the glumes persisting on the stalk. Grains are somewhat flattened, elliptic, about 6 mm long, and have a bundle of white hairs at the tip.


Bromes are cool season grasses (optimal growth below 75°), usually clump-forming, have closed sheaths, panicles that are often drooping or nodding to one side, multi-flowered spikelets, unequal glumes, and lemmas that are typically awned, hairy and usually notched at the tip forming 2 teeth with the awn arising between the teeth. The longer leaves also frequently twist from near the base so the underside and upperside are flipped. Most Bromes found in Minnesota have sheaths and nodes that are hairy to various degrees and are mostly distinguished by the number of veins on the glumes, length of the lemma awns, and sometimes leaf characteristics.

Fringed Brome is distinguished by a 1-veined lower glume, 3-veined upper glume, and lemmas that are long-hairy just along the edges on the lower half or so and hairless or only minutely hairy on the surface. The hairiness of sheaths and leaves is variable. Its habitat is also quite variable: shrub swamps, Jack pine stands, hardwood and mixed forests, sedge meadows, calcareous fens, granite outcrops, river banks, lake shores, and the occasional road ditch. It's a pretty grass and is an important forage species in the western Great Plains.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook, Lake and Pope counties.


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