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Rescue Grass

Ceratochloa cathartica

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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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, 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 Brome Grass, 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
Fields, grassland, meadows, roadsides, rocky places, wasteland.

Green, no petals
A purplish-green, flattened panicle, up to 27cm in length. The upper flowers are erect and the lower flowers are nodding. 3 stamens per flower.
The fruit is a caryosis which is a type of dry, one-seeded fruit. The seed is pale, oval, ridged and pointed at both ends (up to 22mm long and 4mm wide).
Smooth, slightly downy, up to 30cm long and 1.2cm wide. A membranous, raggedy ligule, up to 8mm long (but usually much shorter). Perennial.
Other Names:
Grazing Brome, Prairie Grass, Red False Brome, Schrader's Bromegrass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Ceratochloa cathartica, commonly known as Red False brome, is a species of grass in the genus Ceratochloa. It is native to South America, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, and North America. It is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that can be found in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and rocky or gravelly areas. It is a perennial grass that forms dense clumps, and can grow to a height of up to 4 feet. The leaves are narrow and have a distinctive red color and the plant produces spikes of small, green or brownish flowers in the spring and summer, which are followed by small, brown seed heads.

It has been found to be invasive in some areas, and can outcompete native plants and alter the composition of native ecosystems. It also considered as a weed in many areas and can be a problem in pasture and other grassland areas, as well as in riparian zones and wetlands. Because of this it is controlled and managed in some places. But in some regions, it is also cultivated as forage grass for livestock, for soil erosion control and for ornamental use in landscaping.


Rescue grass (Ceratochloa cathartica) is a fast-growing, cool-season annual grass that is native to South America but has become widespread in the southern United States. It is commonly used for emergency forage, erosion control, and land reclamation due to its rapid growth and high seed production.

Rescue grass is a valuable forage crop for livestock during the winter and early spring months when other forage options may be limited. It is high in crude protein, making it a good source of nutrition for cattle and other grazing animals. Additionally, it has a high tolerance for drought and can grow on poor soils, which makes it an attractive option for farmers and ranchers looking to improve pasture conditions.

One of the key benefits of rescue grass is its ability to control erosion. Its rapid growth and dense root system help stabilize soil, preventing erosion and reducing the risk of landslides. This makes it an important tool for land reclamation efforts in areas that have been degraded by natural disasters, mining, or other human activities.

Rescue grass is also used in conservation efforts to restore native grasslands and prairies. In areas where native grasses have been lost due to development or other factors, rescue grass can serve as a temporary cover crop while more permanent solutions are implemented.

While rescue grass has many benefits, it is important to note that it can also have negative impacts on natural ecosystems if it becomes invasive. In some areas, rescue grass has become a weed and has displaced native vegetation, reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystems. Therefore, it is important to use rescue grass responsibly and to avoid planting it in areas where it may become invasive.

Rescue grass can grow up to 5 feet tall, with leaves that are typically 8-12 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide. The grass produces large, spike-like seedheads that can be up to 12 inches long, containing numerous small seeds. The seeds are easily dispersed by wind and can quickly establish new plants.

Rescue grass prefers well-drained soils and full sun, but can also grow in partially shaded areas. It is a cool-season grass, meaning it grows best in the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler. In warmer climates, it may also grow during the winter months.

One of the challenges of using rescue grass is its tendency to go to seed quickly. If left unmanaged, the grass can quickly produce large amounts of seed and spread rapidly. To avoid this, it is important to manage the grass through grazing, mowing, or other methods to prevent it from going to seed.

Another consideration when using rescue grass is its potential to accumulate nitrates, which can be toxic to livestock if consumed in high amounts. Livestock should be introduced to rescue grass slowly and gradually to allow their digestive systems to adjust to the high-nitrate content.

Rescue grass can be established by seeding or by allowing existing plants to produce seeds and spread naturally. If seeding, it is important to ensure that the seed is planted at the correct depth and in soil that has been prepared to provide good seed-to-soil contact. A firm seedbed will help ensure good germination rates.

Rescue grass can be managed through grazing or mowing. Grazing can help prevent the grass from going to seed and spreading, while also providing a valuable source of forage for livestock. Mowing can also help prevent the grass from going to seed and can help stimulate new growth.

In addition to its practical uses, rescue grass has also been used in landscaping and as an ornamental grass. Its tall, feathery seedheads can add texture and interest to a garden or landscape.

Rescue grass is commonly used in conservation and restoration projects to help establish vegetation on disturbed or degraded sites. It is often used as a cover crop to help prevent erosion and provide temporary ground cover while more permanent vegetation establishes.

In addition to its uses in agriculture and conservation, rescue grass has also been studied for its potential medical benefits. The grass contains compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some research has suggested that these compounds may have potential therapeutic applications in the treatment of various medical conditions, including arthritis and cancer.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the potential medical benefits of rescue grass and its compounds. It is important to note that the grass should not be consumed for its potential health benefits without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

In conclusion, rescue grass is a valuable grass species that has many practical uses, including forage production, erosion control, and land reclamation. It is important to use the grass responsibly and manage it carefully to avoid negative impacts on natural ecosystems and potential health risks to livestock. Additionally, research into the potential medical benefits of rescue grass and its compounds may hold promise for future therapeutic applications.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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