Photo Courtesy of Dr. Roger Banner, USU Extension
Schismus barbatus (Loefl. ex. L.) Thellung
Festuca barbata Loefl. ex. L.
Life Span: Annual
Growth Characteristics: A low tufted annual grass, which is erect or spreading, or often forming large prostrate mats on the ground. It can grow 2 to 14 inches tall. It reproduces by seeds only.
Flowers: The flowering part is a small cluster of short purplish branches grouped close together on the upper part of the stem, 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches long. The spikelets, often purple tinged, are l/4 to 3/8 inch long, with 2 long outer bracts (glumes) 3/4 to as long as the rest of the spikelet. flowering January to May. Seeds are a shiny translucent grain that is oval to eggshaped, and only about 1/25 inch long.
Leaves: Leave blades are rolled, narrow, 1 to 3 inches long, smooth or with a few hairs. The sheath has thin, translucent margins, and is smooth except hairy at the margins of the collar. The leaf is rolled in the bud, ligules composed of short and long hairs. Auricles absent.
Stems: There are many weak stems 2 to 14 inches in length, with very narrow leaf blades.
Introduced from the Mediterranean region, this grass has spread rapidly, and is now very common in vacant lots, city streets and roadsides, irrigated pastures and cultivated fields, also on dry slopes, desert mesas, river bottoms or plains in desert regions. It can grow from 100 to 3,700 feet elevation. Locally abundant on some southwestern ranges, it assumes some importance as a spring forage plant, although it is a relatively recent arrival. It is an invasive species in the Sonoran Zone of Washington and Kane Counties in Utah.
Soils: Mediterranean Grass grows primarily in loams and gravelly loam soils, but does will in sands and sandy loams. Soils high in lime and even pan spots are suitable for this plant.
Associated Species: Western wheatgrass, sand dropseed, big sagebrush and blackbrush
Uses and Management:
This plant is not preferred by either livestock or by big game animals. It is used to some extent by rodents and small mammals. Where more desirable species fail to grow, it may have some value as a recreational area cover in the extremely dry areas of Southwestern Utah.