Downy Brome is a winter annual grassy weed that is also known as Downy Chess, Cheatgrass or by its scientific name, Bromus tectorum. This lawn weed poses a high risk of invasion to newly seeded yards.
Downy Brome can be identified as a slender, vertically growing, winter annual grassy weed. Its ligule is medium-tall and has jagged edges and hairs near the top. The sheaths of this lawn weed are not compressed and feature hairy, prominent veins that are pinkish in color below the ground. Its leaf blades are hairy on both sides, with young leaves usually twisted. Downy Brome also features a soft, drooping seed head that is often purple-tinged and has a fibrous root system.
This grassy weed prefers open areas that are disturbed by civilization and it frequently grows in waste areas, croplands, haylands, pasturelands, rangelands, old fields and along roadsides. Downy Brome is found throughout much of North America. These grassy weeds are also winter annuals, meaning they overlap two calendar years but last only 12 months total. They germinate and develop from late summer to early fall, remain semidormant during the winter and then flower in spring. Come late spring or early summer, they mature and die off as the weather warms.
Downy Brome is a highly invasive grassy weed that frequently invades newly seeded areas—sometimes it's even a contaminant of low-quality grass seeds. If these lawn weeds do invade your lawn or landscaping, professionally applied herbicides are your best method for weed removal.