Bromus japonicus (Japanese brome)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Bromus japonicus Houtt.
Preferred Common Name
- Japanese brome
Other Scientific Names
- Bromus abolinii Drobow
- Bromus anatolicus Boiss. & Heldr.,
- Bromus arvensis var. japonicus (Thunb.) Fiori
- Bromus barobalianus G.Singh
- Bromus cyrii Trin.
- Bromus gedrosianus Pénzes
- Bromus hirtus Licht.
- Bromus patulus Mert. & W.D.J.Koch
- Bromus pendulus Schur
- Bromus phrygius Boiss.
- Bromus pseudojaponicus H.Scholz
- Bromus regnii H.Scholz
- Bromus subsquarrosus Borbás
- Bromus ugamicus Drobow
- Bromus villiferus Steud.
- Forasaccus patulus (Mert. & W.D.J.Koch) Bubani
- Serrafalcus japonicus (Thunb.) Wilmott
- Serrafalcus patulus (Mert. & W.D.J.Koch) Parl.
International Common Names
- English: Japanese bromegrass; Japanese chess; Thunberg's brome
- French: Brome du Japon; brome japonais
- Chinese: que mai
Local Common Names
- Finland: Japaninkattara
- Germany: Japanische Trespe; Ueberhaengende Trespe
- Japan: suzumenochahiki
- Netherlands: japanse dravik
- Sweden: kvarnlosta
- BROJA (Bromus japonicus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
B; japonicus is an annual grass, originating in Eurasia and Northern Africa, which is introduced and invasive in rangelands in central and western North America, and a weed in wheat and other annual crops. It is an aggressive species that out-competes desirable vegetation for water and soil nutrients, thus reducing plant biodiversity. Invaded communities have reduced native vegetation cover and lower species richness than native rangelands. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years, making control difficult. B. japonicus is listed as a significant threat in Kentucky (Kentucky Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2013), is invasive in California (California Invasive Plant Council, 2016), and has an ‘Alert’ status in Tennessee (Tennessee Exotic Pest Plant Council, 2009). In Canada, it is listed as a noxious weed in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Bromus
- Species: Bromus japonicus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Bromus L. is a taxonomically complex genus that includes 169 annual and perennial grass species with wide geographical distribution in temperate regions (Saarela, 2008; The Plant List, 2013).
Bromus japonicus Thunb. is an accepted name,and the species has two subspecies (B. japonicus subsp. anatolicus and B. japonicus subsp. japonicus and many varieties (The Plant List, 2013: USDA-ARS, 2016).
Three annual diploid species B. japonicus Thunb, B. squarrosus L. and B. arvensis are morphologically and genetically very similar. Oja et al. (2003) showed that B. japonicus and B. squarrosus are extreme selfers, whilst B. arvensis is an outcrosser with random mating. The researchers of the above study provided some isozyme evidence to support placement of B. japonicus under the name B. squarrosus. However a later study of Oja and Paal (2006) used cluster, PCA, classificatory and canonical discriminant analysis supporting the recognition of the three taxonomic units, but not recognizing any interspecific taxa within B. japonicus. The PLANTS Database (USDA-NRCS, 2016) treats B. japonicus as a synonym of B. arvensis, whereas on The Plant List (2013) they are two separate species.
DescriptionTop of page
The description of B. japonicus given by the Flora of China Editorial Committee (2016) states:
Annual. Culms erect, 40–90 cm tall. Leaf sheaths pubescent; leaf blades 12–30 cm × 4–8 mm, both surfaces pubescent; ligule 1–2.5 mm. Panicle effuse, 20–30 × 5–10 cm, nodding; branches 2–8, 5–10 cm, slender, each bearing 1–4 spikelets. Spikelets lanceolate-oblong, 12–20 × ca. 5 mm, yellowish green, florets 7–11, closely overlapping; rachilla internodes shortly clavate, ca. 2 mm; glumes subequal, keel scabrid, margins membranous, lower glume 5–7 mm, 3–5-veined, upper glume 5–7.5 mm, 7–9-veined; lemmas elliptic, 8–10 × ca. 2 mm in side view, herbaceous, 9-veined, usually glabrous, margins membranous with conspicuous angle at maturity, scabrid, apex obtuse, minutely 2-toothed, awned from 1–2 mm below apex; awn 5–10 mm, longer on upper lemmas than lower lemmas, base slightly flattened, conspicuously recurved at maturity; palea shorter than lemma, ca. 1 mm wide, keels stiffly ciliate. Anthers ca. 1 mm. Caryopsis 7–8 mm. Fl. and fr. May–Jul. 2n = 14.
B. japonicus has relatively greater root development than B. tectorum (Hulbert 1955).
Plant TypeTop of page
Grass / sedge
DistributionTop of page
B. japonicus is native in eastern, central, southeastern and parts of southwestern (France) Europe, as well as Northern Africa (Egypt), and tropical (Indian Subcontinent) and temperate (Caucasus, China, eastern, middle and western Asia, Mongolia, Siberia) Asia (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016). B. japonicus is an introduced species in Australasia, North America and southern South America (Argentina). In North American mixed grass prairies B. japonicus is a common exotic invasive species (Ogle et al., 2003). It is found in most provinces of Canada (Alberta Weed Monitoring Network, 2014), and southwards through the USA into Mexico.
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 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Jammu and Kashmir||Present||Native|
|United Arab Emirates||Present||Native|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present||Native|
|Serbia and Montenegro||Present||Native|
|United Kingdom||Present||Introduced||First reported: 1863 (publication)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
B. japonicus was introduced to North America from Eurasia (Gilmartin et al., 1986)as a forage species. The time of introduction into the Northern Great Plains is unclear, although the related B. tectorum appears to have spread into Montana along railway lines (Haferkamp and Heitschmidt, 1999).
In Canada, B. japonicus was recorded in Ontario in 1912, with additional scattered records until 1948, after which it spread more rapidly (Dore and McNeill, 1980). It was uncommon in western Canada in the 1960s, but by 1980 was “abundant in the dry lands of southern Alberta and adjacent British Columbia” (Dore and McNeill, 1980). It is now present in most provinces and is reported to be expanding its range (Darbyshire, 2010; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015).
HabitatTop of page
B. japonicus in dry climates may prefer rocky, shallow soil rather than fine-textured deep rock-free soil due to lesser evaporation loss from rocky soils (Hulbert 1955). It has been recorded on reclaimed saline soil and can tolerate NaCl concentrations up to 0.7% (Kim, 1980). In China it is found in forest margins, roadsides, waste ground and river beaches, at altitudes ranging from near sea level to 2500(–3500) m (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016). It is a common component of mixed prairie communities in its introduced range in North America, where it occurs on a wide range of soils. In the USA and Canada it is also present in waste areas and disturbed sites, and is a weed in cultivated fields, especially winter wheat and annual croplands (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Riverbanks||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Rocky areas / lava flows||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
B. japonicus has a chromosome number of 2n=14 (Hindáková, 1986, Schulz-Schaeffer, 1956).
B. japonicus is an annual grass, hence it depends on production of seeds for reestablishment in the next growing season. Oja et al. (2003) showed that B. japonicus is self-pollinated. Its seeds proceed through periods of primary and secondary dormancy. Japanese brome can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, however the germination patterns vary with geographical location. Seeds can germinate readily in reduced light under litter cover (Haferkamp et al., 1994).
Physiology and Phenology
Depending on moisture and temperature, B. japonicus seeds may either germinate almost all seeds at once or only a few seeds at any one time allowing for a carryover of viable seeds from year to year, complicating the control of this invasive species (Haferkamp et al., 1994). Germination can occur at a wide range of temperatures between 5 and 30°C, but extremely cold (from 0/0 to 2/2°C) or warm (from 20/40 to 40/40°C) temperatures reduce germination (Haferkamp et al., 1995). B. japonicus is not a calcifuge (Nicholson and Hui, 1993).
B. japonicus can coexist with Bromus tectorum, with the latter being more abundant or the only annual Bromus in drier grasslands and the former more abundant in soils with increased moisture supply (Hulbert, 1955).
B. japonicus germinates well in a wide range of temperatures from 5 to 30ºC. Light and pH from 5 to 10 has insignificant effect on germination. It is also quite tolerant of osmotic stress and salinity. The seedling emergence is greatest (98%) at the soil surface, decreasing to 7% at a depth of 5 cm (Qi et al., 2015).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Tolerated||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter||Preferred||Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|Dw - Continental climate with dry winter||Preferred||Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
- very alkaline
Special soil tolerances
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
B. japonicus has similar invasion patterns in disturbed vegetation types to those of B. tectorum (Gasch et al., 2013); i.e. the seeds are too heavy to be moved far by wind but are distributed by animals and livestock, or by soil cultivation actrivities.
B. japonicus seeds can travel long distances along railway tracks (Wrzesien, 2011). In Canada it occurs as a weed in crops, and is known to contaminate seed and grain, particularly grass seed and wheat grain (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015).
Pathway CausesTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
Economic ImpactTop of page
B. japonicus is an aggressive and persistent invasive species. It is reasonably palatable to livestock when young but rapidly becomes indigestible as it matures (US Forest Service, 2016). It negatively impacts perennial grass biodiversity, and can alter seasonal patterns of rangeland forage production and quality and livestock performance (Haferkamp et al., 2001; Harmoney, 2007, Gasch et al., 2013). In the North China Plain B. japonicus is one of the most abundant species of grass weeds found in the winter wheat production system (Menegat et al., 2012). B. japonicus is competitive with wheat and may reduce its yield by 30% (Qi et al., 2015). It is a weed of both cropland and rangelands in Canada, and is often an indicator of poor range condition. In Saskatchewan, B. japonicus is problematic in overgrazed pastures and a concern in forage and reclaimed sites (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015).
B. japonicus has been recorded as a host plant for maize dwarf mosaic virus (Lee, 1964). It is also susceptible to wheat yellow streak-mosaic virus (McKinney and Fellows, 1951).
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Habitats
Invasive grasses such as B. japonicus may increase soil infiltration in invaded plots due to a high concentration of fine brome roots in the top few centimetres in the soil, creating a persisting dense network of pores. (Gasch et al., 2013)observed that brome-dominated soils have increased levels of total N and mineral N, with the amount of organic C at similar levels to that in native soils, despite higher litter accumulation in invaded soils. Although the exotic annual bromes add to belowground C levels, the decomposing of brome root biomass results in net C loss through respiration. Invasive bromes extract shallow soil moisture earlier in the growing season than most native perennial species, contributing to much drier conditions in the top layer of the invaded soil profile. Bromes slow down decomposition of aboveground litter (Ogle et al., 2003; Kulmatiski et al., 2006, Gasch et al., 2013).
Impact on Biodiversity
B. japonicus has a negative impact on biodiversity and succession of grassland communities. Invasive grasses may double the herbaceous biomass while reducing the plant species functional group cover to extremely low levels long-term. Increase of species richness of invaded plots with increasing area is at a much lower rate than in native plots.
B. japonicus is one of the annual invasive grasses posing a threat to Silene spaldingii, a rare endemic species found in bunchgrass grasslands and sagebrush-steppe, and occasionally in open pine communities, in eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, west-central Idaho, western Montana, and barely extending into British Columbia, Canada (US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2007). Along with other species such as Bromus tectorum and B. secalinus, B. japonicus degrades the habitat where S. spaldingii is found.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Invasive in its native range
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
B. japonicus can be used as an inexpensive alternative to seed cakes, bran and grains for preparing wet baits for locusts (Verescagin, 1942). It provides forage for grazing animals, but as it matures more quickly than perennial grasses its presence alters the timing of maximal forage production and quality, necessitating a change in livestock management compared with native North American rangelands (Haferkamp and Heitschmidt, 1999).
Rodents such as jumping mice (Zapus hudsonius luteus) feed on the achenes or seeds of Japanese brome (Wright and Frey, 2014).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
Detection and InspectionTop of page
Wang et al. (1999) described a spectral-based sensor for detection and discrimination of wheat and weeds such as B. japonicus.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
It is sometimes difficult to distinguish young specimens of B. japonicus and B. commutatus (Hulbert 1955). B. arvensis, B. japonicus and B. squarrosus are morphologically similar and B. japonicus and B. squarrosus have identical isoenzyme zymograms indicating a close genetic relationship (Oja, 1998, Oja et al., 2003).
It is very difficult to distinguish B. japonicus from B. tectorum at the seedling stage. B. tectorum has an open drooping panicle with long straight awns attached to the seed, whereas B. japonicus has a panicle with the spikelets borne at the ends of long branches (Alberta Weed Monitoring Network, 2014). B. japonicus seed is somewhat shorter than B. tectorum seed and has a twisted awn. B. tectorum seed is a reddish colour at maturity while B. japonicus is tan in colour (Alberta Weed Monitoring Network, 2014).
In the UK, B. japonicus is distinguished from B. arvensis by its shorter anthers (less than 2 mm compared with 3-5 mm in B. arvensis (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.
Burning and spring grazing are effective control treatments to limit B. japonicus density and biomass, however it is difficult to eradicate completely (Harmoney, 2007). Control methods including cultural, physical and chemical control are reviewed by Beck (2009). Maintaining a vigorous cover of perennial grasses in pastures and rangelands is a good prevention measure, as B. japonicus is primarily found in degraded rangelands and does not compete well with well-established perennial grass.
Burning in spring kills B. japonicus for one growing season and reduces subsequent generations especially when the autumn precipitation is below average (Whisenant and Uresk, 1990). In some cases however, exotic annual bromes such as Bromus tectorum and B. japonicus may become dominant following the burn despite low abundance prior to the burn (Gasch et al., 2013). B. japonicus often repopulates burnt areas within 1-2 years (Whisenant and Bulsiewicz, 1985).
Spring time targeted livestock grazing can suppress invasive annual grasses through reduction of the production of viable seeds. This approach may require repeat grazing two or three times in the spring and can be improved by integrating it with prescribed fire, use of herbicides and mechanical treatments (Olson et al., 2006).
Kennedy and Kremer (1966) described the potential use of deleterious rhizobacteria as biological control agents. However, Beck (2009) states that attempts to use bacteria which grew on the roots and were toxic to Bromus but not to wheat in which annual bromes were weedy were never developed as the bacteria could not be mass produced.
Planting annual cover crops such as annual ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) and sunflower (Helianthus annuus) may be effective for controlling Japanese brome and other invasive annuals by reducing their biomass (Perry et al., 2009).
Menegat et al. (2012) described a chlorophyll fluorescence microscreening method for rapid evaluation of herbicide resistance of grass weeds. Greenhouse studies have shown that growth regulators such as aminopyralid and picloram can reduce B. japonicus seed production by nearly 100% indicating the potential for using this class of herbicides for its control (Rinella et al., 2010; 2013). Application of imazapic at appropriate growth stages readily control B. japonicus and B. tectorum (Beck, 2009). Products registered for use on B. japonicus in Canada include imazamox (in product combination with bentazon or imazapyr) and pyroxsulam (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, 2015).
A combination of methods (burning, herbicides and grazing) is suggested by Haferkamp and Heitschmidt (1999) as being needed to reduce the seedbank of annual bromes. Beck (2009) states that the key to managing both B. japonicus and B. tectorum is to prevent seed formation.
ReferencesTop of page
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02/05/2016 Original text by:
Lukasz Tymo, CABI, Egham, UK
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