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Bottlebrush Squirreltail
Elymus elymoides
About Bottlebrush Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) Nurseries Show All Photos Elymus elymoides is a species of wild rye known by the common name squirreltail. This grass is native to most of North America west of the Mississippi River. It occurs in a number of ecosystems, from alpine forest to desert sage scrub to valley grassland. It is a perennial bunch grass growing to around half a meter in height. Its erect solid stems have flat or rolled leaf blades. The flower cluster is up to 15 centimeters long and somewhat stiff and erect, with spikelets one or two centimeters long not counting the awn, which may be 9 centimeters long and sticks straight out, making the flower cluster look like a bottlebrush. This grass is considered a very good forage for sheep. It is best for grazing during the winter, when it is small and green. It becomes less palatable to livestock when its awns grow long and sharp at maturity.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1.5 - 2.1 ft (0.46 - 0.6 m)


Growth Rate

Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry open places


Elevation ?
32' - 14460'

Annual Precip. ?
3.0" - 154.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.15" - 6.04"

Coldest Month ?
10.8° F - 53.9° F

Hottest Month ?
34.1° F - 86.1° F

Humidity ?
0.49 vpd - 42.75 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers loamy or clay soils. Grows poorly in sandy soils.

Landscaping Information
Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment.  For propagating by seed: No treatment.

Nursery Availability
Sometimes Available

Other Names
Common Names
Squirrel-tail Grass

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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