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How to Identify Bottlebrush Grass

Bottlebrush Grass, Elymus hystrix, is a native, cool season grass that can be found in the woods. It grows between two and a half and five feet tall. Its leaves are often twisted where they join the stem so the underside of the leaf faces up, and they also droop at their tips. When identifying this grass, look for a membranous ligule as well as auricles. Auricles are arm-like projections that wrap around the stem where the leaf blade becomes the sheath.

In the summer, this grass produces a spike inflorescence that resembles the shape of a bottlebrush. It's paired spikelets are few in number and they're held perpendicular to the rachis. These spikelets have two awns, which can be up to a one and a half inches long.

This video is part of the Grasses at a Glance series by Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension. Explore the playlist. Read our blog Grasses at a Glance.