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Washington State Grass

Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Washington State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

(Agropyron spicatum)

Adopted on May 12, 1989.

Bluebunch Wheatgrass, (Agropyron spicatum,) was adopted as a new state symbol on May 12, 1989, during Washington's Centennial!

Although many state symbols are readily identifiable with the western part of the state, bluebunch wheatgrass is a state symbol that is unique to eastern Washington. Bluebunch wheatgrass was a blessing to Washington's pioneer farmers and continues to play a major role in our agriculture industry today.

See Montana and Washington

Washington State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Washington State Grass: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

While many state symbols are readily identifiable with the western part of the state, bluebunch wheatgrass is a state symbol that is unique to eastern Washington. Bluebunch wheatgrass was a blessing to Washington's pioneer farmers and continues to play a major role in our agriculture industry today. How appropriate that bluebunch wheatgrass. Norman McClure, who ranches near Nepselem, and the Washington Rangeland Committee can be thanked for giving Washington a state grass. They wanted to increase awareness and appreciation of Washington's rangelands. Bluebunch wheatgrass was their unanimous choice.

Common Name(s): Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Scientific Name: Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh.) A. Love

Scientific Name Synonyms: Agropyron spicatum (Pursh.) Scribn. & J.G. Sm.

Symbol: PSSP6

Description:

Life Span: Perennial

Origin:Native

Season: Cool

Growth Characteristics: Erect bunchgrass, 1 to 2 ½ feet tall, often with short rhizomes. Growth begins in April, and the plants stay green well into the summer. Regrowth occurs following fall rains. Reproduces from seeds, tillers, and rarely by rhizomes.

Seedhead:Slender spike up to 6 inches long; spikelets not imbricate to 1/8 imbricate, containing 4 to 8 florets; glumes acute; Bluebunch wheatgrass lemmas have awns 3/8 to ¾ inches long, divergent at maturity. It can also be awnless.

Leaves: Numerous, rolled in bud; blades flat or loosely rolled; glabrous or pubescent above, commonly 1/16 inch wide, tapering to the tip. Sheaths glabrous; ligules short, collar shaped, membranous; auricles small.

Ecological Adaptations:

Bluebunch wheatgrass has a wide spectrum of adaptations at elevations between 4,000 and 9,000 feet. It is found on all aspects on mountain slopes, benches, basins, or alluvial fans, and in valley bottoms. Bluebunch wheatgrass is one of the more widely distributed and useful species in Utah.

Soils: Adapted to a wide variety of soils, but is found mostly in well-drained, medium to coarse textures soils which vary in depth from shallow to very deep. It is found only in small quantities on fine-textured soils. It will tolerate moist soils, but is most abundant on dry soils.

Associated Species: Big sagebrush, Nevada bluegrass, Idaho fescue, sandberg bluegrass, and Douglas rabbitbrush.

Uses and Management:

The forage value of Bluebunch wheatgrass is excellent for cattle and horse, good for sheep, elk, and deer. It cures well and makes good standing winter feed. Season long, continuous grazing should be avoided. Research has found it can withstand early heavy use if it is usend in a rotational grazing system.

An abundance of bluebunch wheatgrass is an indicator of well managed rangelands.

Washington Law

The law designating bluebunch wheatgrass as the official Washington state grass is found in the Revised Code of Washington, Title 1, Chapter 1.20, Section 1.20.025.

Chapter 1.20 RCW
Title 1 GENERAL PROVISIONS
RCW 1.20.025
State grass.
Agropyron spicatum, the species of natural grass commonly called "bluebunch wheatgrass," is hereby designated as the official grass of the state of Washington.

[1989 c 354 § 62.]

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Bluebunch Wheatgrass

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
    Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Liliopsida - Monocotyledons
    Subclass: Commelinidae
Order: Cyperales
Family: Poaceae ⁄ Gramineae - Grass family
Genus: Pseudoroegneria (Nevski)A. Love - wheatgrass
Species: Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh) A. Love - bluebunch wheatgrass

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