Smooth Bromegrass

Biological Name:

Bromus inermis spp. inermis (Smooth-Bromegrass)

Natural Habitat:

Smooth-Bromegrass: This plant is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and open woods.


Smooth-Bromegrass also known as Bromus is a plant that is native to grassland and prairie regions of North America. It is a perennial grass that can grow up to three feet tall and it has elongated leaves and small inconspicuous flowers that are typically green or yellow in color. The plant is often used as a forage crop for livestock and it is known for its ability to tolerate drought and cold temperatures.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is smooth brome grass invasive?
A: Smooth brome grass is an invasive species. Smooth brome grass prefers moist soils and sunny locations. It is found in degraded prairies, roadside ditches and moist, wooded areas. Considered invasive in many parts of North America.

Q: Do cows like brome grass?
A: Smooth bromegrass, also known as brome, is one of the most popular hays for livestock animals and horses. Brome contains a high relative feed value (RFV) of around 90-100, is very palatable, contains adequate protein, and is full of essential minerals.

Q: How do I get rid of bromegrass?
A: To eliminate brome/fescue, fall is the time to start. When temperatures start to cool, brome/fescue starts to grow and translocate nutrients to its roots. A chemical application of glyphosate (one quart per acre) from late August into early October will be pulled slowly and deeply into the roots, killing the plant.

Q: Is smooth brome annual or perennial?
A: Bromus inermis, Smooth Brome, is a leafy, sod-forming, perennial, cool season grass that spreads by rhizomes. The stems vary in height from 2 to 4 feet. The plant produces numerous basal and stem leaves that vary in length from 4 to 10 inches.

Q: How long does brome grass last?
A: Because smooth brome stands can remain productive for 20 years or longer, correcting soil pH prior to seeding is essential.

Q: Is brome grass good for lawns?
A: Both brome species (Smooth and Downy) can act as weeds in high quality turf areas. Smooth brome has many desirable characteristics to function as a useful turfgrass species; however, its poor density limits the use to low-maintenance areas.

Q: How does smooth brome spread?
A: Life History/Ecology: Smooth brome is a cool season, perennial grass that can spread by seed and rhizomes. Germination is primarily in early spring, but can occur in the early fall if soil moisture is adequate.

Q: How long does it take for brome grass to grow?
A: This information can be found on our website at the specific product page. For most grasses, this is about 3-6 weeks after planting, but could be longer depending on growing conditions.

Q: How do you control brome grass?
A: The key to control is having fall rains to germinate downy brome seeds and then killing these plants before seeding early spring crops. A glyphosate application followed by tillage 7 to 15 days later or glyphosate followed by no-tillage are effective control methods.

Q: Will brome grass grow in shade?
A: Smooth bromegrass grown under 50% shade showed a significantly increased MDW production compared to growth in full sun. With the exception of Justus orchardgrass and smooth bromegrass, growth of cool-season grasses was inhibited at 80% shade.

Q: What is the difference between meadow brome and smooth brome?
A: Rhizomes of meadow brome are much shorter than those of smooth brome. Because of this, smooth brome is commonly a better choice for erosion control plantings. Wildlife: Meadow brome is used in grass-legume mixes for nesting, broad rearing, escape and winter cover in upland wildlife and conservation plantings.

Q: Can you no till brome grass?
A: No-till seeding of smooth bromegrass has emerged as a viable planting method, IF you do not need to incorporate lime or phosphorus to a 6-inch depth prior to planting. With no-till seeding, nonselective herbicides such as glyphosate are heavily relied upon to control existing weeds.

Q: What is brome grass used for?
A: Brome Grass is a common forage grass used in North America. It may be used for hay, pasture, silage or stockpiling. It is compatible with alfalfa or other adapted legumes. Brome Grass is highly palatable and is high in protein content and relatively low in crude-fiber content.

Q: Is smooth brome grass edible?
A: This is an edible plant. It has a similar taste to a dark green lettuce.

Q: What is smooth brome used for?
A: Smooth brome is excellent for the control of soil erosion and is used widely for rehabilitation of rangeland for purposes including forage production, wildlife habitat, landscape beautification, cover for recreational areas and campgrounds, roadside seedings, and for watershed stabilization.

Q: Does brome grass make good hay?
A: Brome, or smooth bromegrass, is a highly palatable and clean cool season grass that provides excellent quality hay when properly managed. Typically raised in the Midwest and harvested once a year from late May to early June, brome will be very leafy and does not contain coarse or hard stems.

Q: When should I burn brome grass?
A: A timely prescribed burn in late spring (April 15-May 15) can remove the initial smooth brome growth forcing the plant to pull energy from its root reserves. This weakens the plant, and creates root space and access to sunlight and moisture for your surrounding native warm season grasses, forbs and legumes.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.