Page author: Don Knoke
Elymus elymoides
bottlebrush, squirreltail

Distribution: British Columbia south to southern California, east to Alberta and Texas.

Habitat: Dry and rocky to moist habitats, from along the coast to inland desert plains and prairies, and in the mountains to above tree line.

Flowers: May - July

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern


Tufted perennial, the culms sub-glabrous to pubescent, 1-6 dm. tall.


Sheaths open; auricles less than 1 mm. long, sometimes lacking; ligules membranous, barely 0.5 mm. long; blades flat to folded or involute, 1-4 mm. broad.


Inflorescence a single terminal spike 3-15 cm. long, often partly included in the upper sheath, the rachis readily disarticulating; spikelets 1- to 6-flowered, usually 2 per node, borne flatwise on the rachis; glumes 1- or 2-nerved, simple to bifid, tapering to 1-2 divaricate awns 3-10 cm. long; florets varying from all fertile to all but one sterile; lemmas scabrous to puberulent, 5-nerved, the main nerve extending into an awn about equal to the glumes, the 2 lateral nerves often extended and bristle-like; paleas 2-nerved, the nerves often extended into bristles up to 5 mm. long.

Accepted Name:
Elymus elymoides (Raf.) Swezey

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Elymus sitanion Schult.
Sitanion elymoides Raf.
Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Sm. [HC]
Sitanion hystrix (Nutt.) J.G. Sm. var. hystrix [HC]
ssp. brevifolius – longleaf squirreltail
ssp. elymoides – bottlebrush squirreltail, California squirreltail
ssp. hordeoides – bottlebrush squirreltail
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Elymus elymoides in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Elymus elymoides checklist entry.

E-Flora BC: Elymus elymoides atlas page.

CalPhotos: Elymus elymoides photos.

USDA Plants: Elymus elymoides information.

46 photographs:
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