Photo: Bottlebrush Grass

Elymus hystrix L.

Bottlebrush Grass

Habitat: Rich, rocky, or alluvial deciduous forests. [Hardwood to mixed forest (forest, upland)]

Range: New Brunswick to Ontario, south to Georgia, Illinois, and Nebraska .

Aids to Identification: Like other members of the genus Elymus, E. hystrix is a tall grass with flat leaf-blades and bristly terminal spikes. It is distinguished by its widely spreading spikelets, 2 spikelets borne at each node, and its long awns.

Ecological characteristics: In Maine this grass is known to occur on rich wooded slopes and alluvial floodplains with a variety of deciduous trees in the canopy.

Photo: Bottlebrush Grass

Phenology: Fruits June - July.

Family: Poaceae

Synonyms: Maine tracks this at the species level. There are two varieties in New England, both are known from Maine.

  • Elymus hystrix L. var. bigeloviana (Fern.) Bowden, with synonym Hystrix patula Moench var. bigeloviana (Fern.) Deam.
  • Elymus hystrix L. var. hystrix with synonyms Hystrix hystrix (L.) Millsp. and Hystrix patula Moench.

Photo: Bottlebrush Grass

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 18 town(s) in the following county(ies): Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec, Knox, Oxford, Somerset, Waldo, York.

Reason(s) for rarity: Scarcity of suitable habitat.

Conservation considerations: This plant is restricted statewide to southern Maine, and most known populations are vulnerable to conversion of their habitat to residential or commercial use.

Photo: Bottlebrush Grass
Photo: Bottlebrush Grass