Junegrass

Junegrass, courtesy of Intermountain Herbarium
© Intermountain Herbarium, http://herbarium.usu.edu/
Common Name(s):

Junegrass
Prairie Junegrass

Scientific Name:

Koeleria macrantha (Ledeb.) J.A. Shultes

Scientific Name Synonyms:

Koeleria pyramidata auct. p.p. non Pers. (Lam.) Beauv.
Koeleria cristata auct. p.p. non Pers.

Symbol:

KOMA

Description:

Life Span: Perennial

Origin:Native

Season: Cool

Growth Characteristics: A tall (18 - 26 inches), erect grass, without rhizomes, growing in small bunches 2 to 6 inches in diameter. It starts growth in the early spring, flowers in June and July, produces seed through September, and may regrow in the fall if soil moisture is adequate. It reproduces from seeds and tillers. It usually reaches the blossom stage ahead of most of its associated grass species.

Seedhead:Dense, narrow, spike-like panicle (open during anthesis), 1 to 5 inches long; seedstalks nearly leafless, often finely pubescent just below the seedhead; spikelets about 1/8 inch long, contain 2 to 4 florets; glumes and lemmas glabrous, awnless, or awn-pointed.

Leaves: Mostly basal, glabrous on lower leaves sometimes slightly pubescent; blades narrow, 1 ½ to 5 inches longs, flat to rolled and curly when dry, and rough above from raised veins; sheaths also prominently veined; leaves folded in bud; ligules short, less than 1/16 inch, membranous, collar-shaped, finely toothed at margin; auricles absent.

Ecological Adaptations:

Junegrass is widely distributed from the gently rolling hills and footslopes to the mountain valleys from 6,000 to 12,500 feet elevation in the 16 to 24 inch rainfall belts. It is not normally found in wetland areas.

Soils: Primarily found in deep, medium to moderately fine textured soils but it can be found in moderately deep soils with coarse fragments.

Associated Species: Associated species include a wide variety of mountain forbs. Associated grasses include mountain brome, Columbia needlegrass, letterman needlegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass.

Uses and Management:

This is an excellent forage plant for all classes of livestock, although forage production is low. It is good forage for wildlife in spring and in the fall after curing. It is less palatable during seed production. It furnishes feed for small mammals and upland game birds. It is an excellent erosion control plant within the plant communities where it grows, but is seldom found in pure stands.

Junegrass responds to grazing management that harvests 40 to 50 percent of the annual yield during the growing season. It does not do well under season long, heavy grazing pressure.

Where it is kept in vigorous growing conditions, Junegrass has a stabilizing effect on soils and water movement on watersheds.