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Smooth Brome Grass

Bromus racemosus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Italian Rye Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Ditches, fields, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, wasteland, woodland.

Green, no petals
Tall, green flowering panicles, up to 6 inches in length.One spikelet per branch. Often purple-tinged.
The fruit is a caryopsis. This is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit which is typical of all grass species.
An annual grass with bluish-green leaf blades. Smooth and hairless.
Other Names:
Bald Brome, Woodland Brome.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Bromus racemosus, also known as woodland brome, is a species of grass in the genus Bromus. It is native to North America and can be found in woodlands, forest edges, and rocky or gravelly areas. It is a perennial grass that forms dense clumps, and can grow to a height of 2 to 4 feet. The leaves are narrow and have a hairy appearance. The plant produces spikes of small, greenish-brown flowers in the summer.

Bromus racemosus is considered to be a relatively shade-tolerant species, and it can be found growing in wooded areas where other grass species may not be able to survive. It is often found growing in association with other woodland plants such as trilliums, wild ginger, and ferns. It is considered a good plant for reforestation and landscaping, as well as a forage species for wildlife.


Smooth Brome Grass, also known by its scientific name Bromus racemosus, is a perennial grass that belongs to the Poaceae family. Native to Europe and western Asia, it has been widely introduced throughout the world as a forage grass due to its many desirable qualities.

Appearance and Growth Habit

Smooth Brome Grass typically grows to be around 3-4 feet tall, with a spreading root system that allows it to establish quickly and compete well with other plants. Its leaves are flat and narrow, with a prominent midrib, and can grow up to 8 inches in length.

The plant produces a tall, branched seed head with numerous small flowers that bloom in the late spring or early summer. As the seeds mature, they turn a light tan color and begin to disperse in the wind.


Smooth Brome Grass is primarily used as a forage crop for livestock due to its high nutritional value and palatability. It is often planted in pastures and hayfields, and can also be used for erosion control and as a cover crop.

In addition to its practical uses, Smooth Brome Grass is also a popular ornamental plant for landscaping and gardening. Its attractive seed heads and lush green foliage make it an attractive addition to many outdoor spaces.

Benefits and Challenges

Smooth Brome Grass has a number of desirable qualities that make it a popular choice for forage and landscaping purposes. It is a hardy and adaptable plant that can grow well in a variety of soil types and moisture conditions. It is also resistant to many pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance option for farmers and gardeners.

However, Smooth Brome Grass can also present some challenges in certain situations. Its vigorous growth habit can cause it to outcompete native vegetation and become invasive in some areas. It may also be less desirable as a forage crop in certain regions due to its lower drought tolerance and potential for lodging (falling over) under heavy grazing pressure.

Smooth Brome Grass is a versatile and useful plant that has been widely adopted around the world for its many benefits. However, it is important to carefully consider its suitability for a given situation and take appropriate measures to manage any potential negative impacts.

Benefits of Smooth Brome Grass

  1. High Nutritional Value: Smooth Brome Grass is a highly nutritious forage crop that is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and essential minerals. This makes it an excellent feed source for livestock, especially during the spring and early summer when the plant is at its most productive.

  2. Soil Health: Smooth Brome Grass has a deep root system that can help to improve soil health by increasing organic matter and water-holding capacity. This can be particularly beneficial in areas with sandy or clay soils that are prone to erosion.

  3. Erosion Control: The spreading root system of Smooth Brome Grass can also be effective in controlling soil erosion on slopes and other areas prone to erosion. This can help to reduce the loss of topsoil and improve soil quality over time.

  4. Low Maintenance: Smooth Brome Grass is a low-maintenance crop that requires minimal fertilization and pest control. This can help to reduce costs and labor requirements for farmers and ranchers.

Challenges of Smooth Brome Grass

  1. Invasive Potential: Smooth Brome Grass can be invasive in some areas, especially in the western United States where it has been widely planted for forage purposes. In these areas, it may outcompete native vegetation and reduce biodiversity.

  2. Drought Sensitivity: While Smooth Brome Grass is generally hardy and adaptable, it may be less drought-tolerant than other forage crops in certain regions. This can make it a less desirable choice for farmers and ranchers in these areas.

  3. Potential for Lodging: Smooth Brome Grass can be prone to lodging, or falling over, under heavy grazing pressure. This can reduce its value as a forage crop and require additional management to prevent.

  4. Limited Palatability: While Smooth Brome Grass is generally considered to be a highly palatable forage crop, there may be some variation in palatability depending on the specific cultivar and region. This can impact its value as a feed source for livestock.

Management of Smooth Brome Grass

Proper management is critical to the success of any crop, including Smooth Brome Grass. Here are some key management practices to consider:

  1. Planting: Smooth Brome Grass can be planted in the spring or fall, depending on the specific region and growing conditions. It is important to prepare the seedbed properly by tilling or harrowing the soil and removing any rocks or debris. The seed can be broadcast or drilled into the soil at a rate of around 10-20 pounds per acre.

  2. Fertilization: While Smooth Brome Grass generally requires minimal fertilization, it may benefit from a light application of nitrogen in the spring to promote growth. A soil test can help to determine the specific fertilizer needs of the crop.

  3. Weed Control: Smooth Brome Grass can be susceptible to competition from weeds, especially in the first year after planting. Proper weed control practices, such as mowing or herbicide application, can help to reduce weed pressure and promote healthy growth.

  4. Grazing Management: Smooth Brome Grass can be a valuable forage crop for livestock, but proper grazing management is critical to maintaining plant health and productivity. Overgrazing can lead to reduced plant vigor, increased weed pressure, and potential lodging. Rotational grazing or controlled grazing practices can help to ensure the crop is used efficiently while also maintaining plant health.

  5. Harvesting: Smooth Brome Grass can be harvested for hay or silage at the appropriate growth stage to maximize yield and quality. Timing will depend on the specific cultivar and region, but generally, the crop should be harvested before the seed heads mature to ensure good quality forage.

In conclusion, Smooth Brome Grass is a valuable and versatile plant that can provide many benefits for farmers and gardeners. With proper management practices in place, it can be a low-maintenance and high-yielding forage crop that is ideal for many growing conditions. However, it is important to consider the potential challenges of planting Smooth Brome Grass in a given area and take appropriate measures to manage any negative impacts. By doing so, farmers and gardeners can enjoy the many benefits of this valuable plant for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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