Elymus elymoides

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Elymus elymoides
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
(unranked): Commelinids
Order: Poales
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Elymus
Species: E. elymoides
Binomial name
Elymus elymoides
(Raf.) Swezey

Sitanion hystrix

Elymus elymoides is a species of wild rye known by the common name squirreltail. This grass is native to most of North America west of the Mississippi River. It occurs in a number of ecosystems, from the alpine zone to desert sage scrub to valley grassland.


Elymus elymoides is a perennial bunch grass growing to around half a meter in height. Its erect solid stems have flat or rolled leaf blades. The inflorescence is up to 15 centimeters long and somewhat stiff and erect, with spikelets one or two centimeters long not counting the awn, which may be 9 centimeters long and sticks straight out, making the inflorescence look like a bottlebrush.

This grass is considered a very good forage for sheep. It is best for grazing during the winter, when it is small and green. It becomes less palatable to livestock when its awns grow long and sharp at maturity.


Subspecies include:

  • E. e. ssp. brevifolius - widespread
  • E. e. ssp. californicus - occurs in the western half of the species range
  • E. e. ssp. elymoides - widespread
  • E. e. ssp. hordeoides - limited mostly to the Pacific Northwest

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