Bromus rubens (red brome)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Soil Tolerances
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Plant Trade
- Impact Summary
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Bromus rubens L.
Preferred Common Name
- red brome
Other Scientific Names
- Anisantha rubens (L.) Nevski
- Bromus dilatatus Poir.
- Bromus madritensis subsp. rubens (L.) Hussenot
- Bromus purpurascens Delile
International Common Names
- English: foxtail brome; foxtail chess; red bromegrass)
- Spanish: plumerillo rojo
- French: brome rougeâtre
- Portuguese: espadana
Local Common Names
- Finland: tupsukattara
- Germany: Rote Trespe; Rötliche Trespe
- Italy: forasacco purpureo
- BRORU (Bromus rubens)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyperales
- Family: Poaceae
- Genus: Bromus
- Species: Bromus rubens
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page The synonym Anisantha rubens (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.
B. rubens and B. madritensis are very closely related. They are treated as subspecies of B. madritensis by some systematists: the type species subsp. madritensis and red brome subsp. rubens (Wilken and Painter, 1993). Esnault (1984) described patterns of geographic variation in B. madritensis in Mediterranean Europe and northern Africa, providing evidence for intergradations between the two subspecies in their native ranges. Others treat them as distinct species (Kearney et al., 1960; Tutin et al., 1980; Welsh et al., 1987; Pavlik, 1995; Kartesz and Meacham, 1999; Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 2004; USDA-ARS, 2004). For the purposes of this Compendium, data on B. rubens and B. madritensis are presented in separate species datasheets.
DescriptionTop of page B. rubens is an annual plant with erect stems or ascending culms to 16-40 cm. Leaf blades and sheaths have small, soft hairs; blade 4-12 cm x 2-5 mm; ligule 2-5 mm, whitish. Inflorescence 30-75 mm x 15-37 mm, stiffly erect, dense, ovoid at the top, wedge-shaped at the base; rachis internodes generally <1-3 mm; reddish brown to purplish at maturity. Spikelet 4- to 11-flowered, uppermost 4-6 sterile and reduced; size 20-50 mm; densely crowded; wedge-shaped; soft or stiff hairs; cylindric to slightly compressed; sessile; lower glume 1-veined, 3-8 mm; upper glume 3-veined, 4-10 mm; both glumes narrow, gradually tapering to a short point, smooth or with soft hairs, and translucent. Lemma 4-15 mm long narrowly toothed with short stiff hairs; awn 9-22 mm and generally straight; palea shorter than lemma, very narrow. Caryopsis 4-11 mm. Seed lanceolate with short stiff hairs, bounded by palea and lemma with long, rough awn. For further information see Maire (1955), Munz and Keck (1959) and Wilken and Painter (1993).
Plant TypeTop of page Annual
Grass / sedge
DistributionTop of page The native distribution shown in the country list is based on data from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (2004) and USDA-ARS (2004). The occurrence in the Azores is doubtful according to 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
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page B. rubens was introduced into the USA from southern Europe probably in the mid-1800s (Burcham, 1957). It is most likely that the introduction of this species, along with other annual exotic species with low forage value, was unintentional (Burcham, 1957). B. rubens occurs throughout the western USA from Washington to California, east to Arizona, Utah and Texas, and is localized north to Massachusetts. It is especially prevalent in the Pacific region (Hitchcock, 1950; Gould, 1951; Kearney and Peebles, 1951). It is classified as invasive in Australia and western USA (Weber, 2003).
HabitatTop of page B. rubens occurs at low to medium elevations (below 5000 ft) along roadsides, in waste places, rangelands and cultivated fields (Munz and Keck, 1959; Beatley, 1966; Crampton, 1974). It is commonly found growing on shallow dry soil or poor textured, clayey soil (Sampson et al., 1951; Wu and Jain, 1978). Due to the autumn germination and the winter growth period, B. rubens grows in areas with hot, dry summers and mild, moist winters. This species is killed by winter freeze and requires between 10 and 25 cm of precipitation throughout its growing season (Hulbert, 1955; Bartolome et al., 1980).
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. rubens is considered to be a noxious weed in agricultural and horticultural crops, including orchards and olive trees (Hamal et al., 2001). The main crops affected are wheat and barley and crops in rotation with cereals (sugarbeet, sunflower, faba beans, etc.; Taleb, 1997).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
Biology and EcologyTop of page Genetics
The chromosome number is 2n = 28, the same as B. madritensis (Acedo and Llamas, 1999).
Physiology and Phenology
The seed dormancy period depends on the geographic location of the plant (Jain, 1982). Seeds that are produced and mature in the spring, usually remain dormant throughout the hot, dry period of the summer and then germinate after the first rainfall that exceeds 1 cm (Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Precipitation affects germination much more than it influences other stages of growth (Hufstader, 1978). Moisture plays a greater role than temperature in influencing germination: a germination rate of 54% occurred over a period of 3 months, each with different average temperatures, provided that the moisture in the soil was not limiting (Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Bromus spp. seeds germinated and emerged at a soil depth of 15 cm, while greater depths resulted in germination but no emergence (Hamal et al., 1998).
The tolerance of B. rubens to high salt and high pH conditions partially explains its success in desert soils. B. rubens is able to germinate (>50% germination) under high osmotic potential in soils treated with sodium chloride solutions (to 7.5 atmospheres; Hammouda and Bakr, 1969). Under extremely alkaline conditions (in soil mixed with 50% coal ash to achieve pH 11.4-12.7), germination occurred at a rate of 15% in 24 days compared with 93% germination within 12 days in soil without ash (Vollmer et al., 1982).
Plant densities of Bromus spp. (including B. rubens) 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. Nitrogen content of leaves varied from 4.1 to 3.8% and the total protein content of seeds was 10.9%. The weight of 1000 kernels varied from 20 to 24 g (Hamal et al., 1998).
B. rubens produces an average of 76 and 142 seeds per plant in natural populations and experimental mixed-stand plots, respectively (Wu and Jain, 1979). The viability of stored seeds at 10°C was 38 months. Good germination of seeds stored for up to 6 years was observed in the dark at 20, 25 and 30°C (Fenni, 1995).
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Special soil tolerances
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page There is little information in the literature on natural enemies of B. rubens. However, Beuve and Lapierre (1992) indicated the susceptibility of B. madritensis to Barley yellow dwarf virus RPV strain (BYDV-RPV).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page In general, propagation is by seed. Short-distance dispersal is aided by wind, which blows seeds along the ground until they settle in eddies behind shrubs or rocks or in depressions in the ground. Long-distance dispersal of B. rubens is accomplished by seeds that lodge in animal fur and in loosely woven clothing.
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 In areas with low herbaceous competition, B. rubens can be invasive and, once established, competitive with other grasses. The awns and florets are a direct threat to livestock and native fauna (Crampton, 1974). The exceptionally slow decay of this species, up to 2 years in the Nevada desert, USA, results in an abundance of dead stalks which enhance the potential for the start and spread of fires (Beatley, 1966).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
|Threatened Species||Conservation Status||Where Threatened||Mechanism||References||Notes|
|Amaranthus pumilus (seabeach amaranth)||NatureServe; USA ESA listing as threatened species||California||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2008|
|Enceliopsis nudicaulis var. corrugata (Ash Meadows sunray)||USA ESA listing as threatened species||California; Nevada||Competition - monopolizing resources; Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2011|
|Polioptila californica californica (coastal California gnatcatcher)||USA ESA listing as threatened species||California||Ecosystem change / habitat alteration||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010a|
|Verbesina dissita (big-leaved crownbeard)||National list(s); USA ESA listing as threatened species||California||Competition - monopolizing resources||US Fish and Wildlife Service, 2010b|
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
- Damaged ecosystem services
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts animal health
- Competition - monopolizing resources
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page B. rubens can be confused with other species of the genus at the seedling stage, and particularly with B. madritensis at all developmental stages. B. madritensis has glabrous to slightly pubescent sheaths and stems, and the inflorescences are slightly open and oblong to ovoid. B. rubens has pubescent sheaths and stems, and the inflorescence is dense and ovoid. Stace (1991) indicates that they also differ in lemma length (9-15 mm in B. rubens compared with 12-20 mm in B. madritensis) and in the number of sterile apical florets (at least three in B. rubens, only one-two in B. madritensis).
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.Introduction
Control of this species is highly feasible. The short-term viability of the seeds and the low survivability in crowded sites make eradication possible. Shading and nutrient competition reduces the number of individual B. rubens plants.
Removal of weeds, especially annuals, can be accomplished by hand-pulling or hoeing (Lorenzi and Jeffery, 1987). This repetitive task is time consuming, especially since seeds of B. rubens germinate from autumn through spring. One approach is to remove all B. rubens plants at one time, before the majority of flowering occurs. Plants are shallow rooted and can be easily pulled by hand or with tools (Humphrey 1977; Sopena et al., 1981).
Good to moderate efficacy was obtained with sulfosulfuron under greenhouse and field conditions (Tanji, 2001). Due to the annual reproductive cycle of red brome, the most effective chemicals are pre-emergence herbicides (non-selectives). These kill the seeds in the soil before they germinate but the impacts of these herbicides on native plants may not be acceptable.
The soil-active herbicide atrazine is effective in reducing the amount of competition by annual brome species, as seen by an increased yield in range forage crops and sagebrush (Artemisia sp.) in California and Nevada, USA (Kay, 1971; Evans and Young, 1977). In the Mojave Desert, atrazine killed B. rubens, however, toxic effects were evident in the native vegetation for more than 8 years (Hunter et al., 1978). In vineyards, B. rubens is controlled by the application of terbuthylazine + terbumeton before the vines sprout (Sopena et al., 1981).
ReferencesTop of page
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