Bromus sterilis (barren brome)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Bromus sterilis L.
Preferred Common Name
- barren brome
Other Scientific Names
- Anisantha sterilis (L.) Nevski
- Genea sterilis (L.) Dumort.
International Common Names
- English: barren bromegrass; poverty brome; sterile brome
- Spanish: bromo esteril
- French: brome stérile
Local Common Names
- Denmark: gold hejre
- Finland: hietakattara
- Germany: Taube Trespe
- Italy: forasacco rosso
- Japan: arechi-no-cha-hiki
- Netherlands: ijle dravik
- Spain: barbas de macho estéril
- Sweden: sandlosta
- BROST (Bromus sterilis)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Bromus
- Species: Bromus sterilis
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page The synonym Anisantha sterilis (L.) Nevski has been used until quite recently in Europe (e.g., Stace, 1991), this genus name being applied to species otherwise included in Bromus sect. Genea Dumort., differing from Bromus sensu stricto in having spikelets almost straight-sided, widening towards the top, rather than ovate to lanceolate, and having glumes with only one to three veins.
A modern re-assessment of the taxonomy and nomenclature of the annual taxa within the mainly Mediterranean/southwestern Asiatic Bromus section Genea is given by Sales (1993) in which B. sterilis, B. diandrus and B. rigidus are considered as varieties of one species while recognizing that they have often been treated as separate species in recent floras. For the purposes of this Compendium, these three taxa are covered by separate species datasheets.
DescriptionTop of page B. sterilis is an annual or biennial plant, 30-80 cm high. Stem (culms) erect, smooth, sometimes rough at the very top. Leaves smooth, pale green, leaf blade hairy, glossy underneath, leaf sheath hairy and closed. Leaves without auricles; ligule 2-4 mm long, white, membranous, fringed with hairs. Lamina and leaf sheath abundantly hairy, purplish/rose veins. Inflorescence a purplish or green panicle, lax, drooping, up to 15 cm long. Spikelet branches usually much longer than the spikelets. Spikelets 20-25 mm long, 6- to 13-flowered, strongly compressed, glumes slightly unequal, glabrous with 1-3 veins. Lemma 13-20 mm with a dorsal awn 15-35 mm long. Disarticulating above the persistent glumes. Grain 10 mm long. For further information see Clapham et al. (1952), Hubbard (1959), Hoechst Schering AgrEvo (1995).
Plant TypeTop of page Annual
Grass / sedge
DistributionTop of page Native records are based on USDA-ARS (2004) and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2004).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
HabitatTop of page B. sterilis occurs in ruderal situations, on wastelands and roadsides, but has also become increasingly abundant in arable habitats where shallow cultivation is practised. It is found in all the major soil types (clays, loams and sands; acid, neutral and alkaline) and grows in dry or moist soil. It can tolerate drought and strong winds but not maritime exposure (INRA, 2001).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page B. sterilis is considered to be a noxious agricultural and horticultural weed in the Mediterranean region (Taleb, 1997; Cooper and Moerkerk, 2000; Hamal et al., 2001). The main crops affected are wheat, barley and crops in rotation with cereals (sugarbeet, sunflower, chickpea, faba bean and lentil; Taleb, 1997).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Beta vulgaris (beetroot)||Chenopodiaceae||Main|
|Cicer arietinum (chickpea)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Helianthus annuus (sunflower)||Asteraceae||Main|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Main|
|Lens culinaris subsp. culinaris (lentil)||Fabaceae||Main|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Main|
|Triticum turgidum (durum wheat)||Poaceae||Main|
|Vicia faba (faba bean)||Fabaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
B. sterilis has a chromosome number of 2n=14 (Anon., 2000). However, a new polyploid number (2n=28) was reported by Queiros (1981).
Physiology and Phenology
The germination of B. sterilis seeds was inhibited by Pfr (the far-red-light-absorbing form of phytochrome). The degree of inhibition was dependent on the proportion of Pfr which had established in the seed. This inhibition was transitory and at 15°C was evident in 40% of seeds 1.5 days after sowing. Pfr inhibition persisted more at temperatures below 15° than at temperatures above 15°C which were inhibitory to germination anyway. The inhibitory effect of Pfr was also increased in conditions of low substrate moisture content (Hilton, 1984). Andersson et al. (2002) confirmed that germination of B. sterilis in Sweden is strongly inhibited by light, while there was much variation in dormancy. Longevity of B. sterilis is relatively short, with few seeds persisting beyond 12 months under field conditions (Lutman et al., 2003).
Optimum germination of B. sterilis seeds under laboratory conditions was achieved at about 15-25°C and soil depths of 0.5 cm (Mikulka, 1987).
Plant densities of Bromus spp. (including B. sterilis) in Morocco varied from 330 to 661 plants/m², with a maximum height of 102 cm and a leaf area index of 6. The net daily assimilation rate was 4 g/m² and daily growth rates varied from 3.2 to 7.7 g/m². The nitrogen content of leaves varied from 3.8 to 4.1% and total protein content of seeds was 10.9%. The weight of 1000 kernels varied from 20 to 24 g (Hamal et al., 1998).
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Dry season duration||0||8||number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Winter
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page B. sterilis has been reported as a host of Wheat streak mosaic virus (Rabenstein and Stanarius, 1981) and of Wheat dwarf virus (Mehner et al., 2003). It is susceptible to a Drechslera species (Pyrenophora chaetomioides) which may have potential as a mycoherbicide (Lawrie et al., 1998). The seeds are also predated by small animals; Povey et al. (1993) concluded that small mammals probably play a role in the population dynamics of major crop weeds, including B. sterilis, by feeding on their seeds in field margins.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page In general, propagation is by seed. Long-distance dispersal could occur by contamination of crop seeds and forages and attachment to animals.
Plant TradeTop of page
|Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transport||Pest stages||Borne internally||Borne externally||Visibility of pest or symptoms|
|True seeds (inc. grain)||seeds||Yes||Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye|
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Fisheries / aquaculture||None|
ImpactTop of page B. sterilis is a serious weed problem of autumn-sown cereals (Mortimer et al., 1993). In Morocco, five species of Bromus (B. rigidus, B. rubens, B. sterilis, B. madritensis and B. mollis) are causing problems in wheat in the Sais area: 17% of fields were slightly infested (density of Bromus (Dbr) < 90 plants/m²), 61% were moderately infested (90 < Dbr < 290 plants/m²) and 22% were highly infested (Dbr > 400 plants/m²) (Hamal et al., 2001).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Highly mobile locally
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Pest and disease transmission
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page All Bromus species are very similar at the seedling and vegetative stages. The separation of B. sterilis, B. rigidus and B. diandrus in the field at all development stages is difficult (Maire, 1955; Cooper and Moerkerk, 2000). When flowering, B. sterilis differs from B. diandrus and B. rigidus in having lemmas 13-20 mm long (compared with 20-35 mm; Stace, 1991).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Cultural Control
Compared with chemical control, control by cultural methods such as crop rotation and delayed drilling may be more economic. Cultural techniques aimed at preventing the invasion of Bromus spp. from hedgerows are also important (Jarvis, 1982).
Deep tillage decreases Bromus spp. germination (Peters et al., 1993; Hamal et al., 2001), whereas shallow tillage increased seedling emergence and subsequent seedbank decline (Anderson, 1998). Long-term studies conducted in the UK showed that ploughing was the most effective method of control. In the absence of ploughing, B. sterilis built up in subsequent crops, and dramatically increased in the third year of cropping (Turley et al., 1996).
Under field conditions, good control of B. sterilis was obtained by applying fluazifop-P (Milkulka, 1987; Boatman, 1993). Removal of competition by B. sterilis on wheat was obtained by sulfosulfuron applications in the UK, Denmark and Germany (Gibson and Kerchove, 1999). Best control was also achieved by autumn application of tri-allate, isoproturon, metoxuron and metoxuron + simazine (Orson , 1981; Pollard and Richardson, 1981; Rule, 1989; Jarvis, 1982). However, metoxuron applied in April was much less effective (Pollard and Richardson, 1981). Good to excellent control of B. sterilis was obtained using terbutryn or methabenzthiazuron (Milkulka, 1987). The fungicide tridemorph has been trialled as a selective herbicide for the control of Bromus sterilis in barley (Watt, 1983).
ReferencesTop of page
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Distribution MapsTop of page
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