Plant Species of the Bright Angel Trail: downy brome, cheatgrass, Bromus tectorum

See Plant Guide to Bright Angel Trail for an introduction to this page.

This is a non-native species.


Identification status: 95% confidence. There are several other much-less-common non-native species that appear similar to Bromus tectorum, which are distinguished by the number of veins in their glumes. It is very difficult to determine this without microscopic examination.

However, none of the look-alike species are in the Grand Canyon flora, so B. tectorum is the overwhelmingly-likely determination. On my next trip, I'll examine the glumes to make 100% sure of the determination.

From a SEINet search, there are 27 vouchers of this species from the Coconino County portion of the Grand Canyon. The nearest are at: El Tovar Hotel and W of Grand Canyon Village. Note that there may be additional vouchers at other herbaria not available through SEINet.

First occurrence on Bright Angel Trail: mile 0.00, elevation 6845 feet (2086 m).

Number of plants along Trail: Unfortunately, this species is found in many places along the trail. At least 99 plants were found in at least 9 different locations in September 2007.


The first picture below shows young plants that have germinated from the summer rains. Note the twist to the leaves, typical of many non-native annual grasses. Also note the glaucous appearance of a few plants at middle bottom, also typical for some specimens of many non-native annual grasses. The species could not have been identified from these young plants alone.

The second picture shows a dried-up old plant, probably from last spring, that accompanied these young plants. The nodding branches are typical of B. tectorum and its few uncommon look-alike species.

From 5 September 2007, mile 0.00:

The picture below, which unfortunately is out of focus for the two dead flower stalks in my hand, shows Bromus rubens on the left and B. tectorum on the right. From 6 September 2007, mile 2.00:


See Resources for Grand Canyon Flora for further information on most of these references. Entries in the second column are either the name used in that source or a page reference. The name is linked to online pages when available. If a given reference does not contain this taxon, the entry is either left blank or contains a hyphen.

Scientific NameBromus tectorum
1987 Grand Canyon Flora NameBromus tectorum
1987 Grand Canyon Flora page16
SEINet Image PageBromus tectorum
USDA PlantsBromus tectorum
Flora of North America
Jepson Manual for California treatmentBromus tectorum
Jepson Manual illustration page1245
Kearney and Peebles NameBromus tectorum
Kearney and Peebles Page #78
Vascular Plants of AZ name
Vascular Plants of AZ volume: page
Huisinga et al 2006 nameBromus tectorum
Huisinga et al 2006 page numbers38-39
Epple Name-
Epple description page #-
Epple pix #-
McDougall 1964 nameBromus tectorum
McDougall 1964 page #49
Brian 2000 Name
Phillips 1979 name-
Phillips 1979 page #-
Stockert 1967 name-
Stockert 1967 page #-

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Copyright © 2007 by Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last Update: 24 September 2007