Definitions

japanese brome

Bromus

Bromus is a large genus of the true grass family (Poaceae), with about 160 species. Estimates in the scientific literature of the number of species have ranged from 100 to 400. They are commonly known as bromes, brome grasses or chess grasses

Description

Bromus species occur in many habitats in temperate regions of the world, including the Americas, Eurasia, Australia, and Africa. There is a wide variety between some species, while the morphological differences between others are subtle and difficult to distinguish. As such, the taxonomy of the genus is complicated.

The genus Bromus is distinguished from other grass genera by the combination of several morphological characteristics, including leaf sheaths that are closed (connate) for most of their length, awns that are usually inserted subapically, and hairy appendages on the ovary. The leaves and sheaths can be hairless, sparsely hairy or hairy. The inflorescence is a loose or open panicle, usually drooping or nodding, sometimes spreading (as in Japanese Brome, B. japonicus).

Ecology

The caterpillars of some Lepidoptera use Bromus as a foodplant, e.g. the Chequered Skipper (Carterocephalus palaemon).

Bromus species are generally considered to have low utility value to humans. As names like Bromus fibrosus, Poverty Brome (B. sterilis) or Ripgut Brome attest, they are not very useful as fodder because their leaves sclerotize quickly and may even be harmful to livestock due to the high silica content. Brome grasses are not usually found as ornamental plants due to most species' nondescript appearance. Some are useful to prevent erosion but such use must be cautiously controlled as most Bromus have the ability to spread, becoming invasive weeds.

Taxonomy and systematics

Taxonomists have generated various classification schemes to reflect the morphological variation that is seen in Bromus. In North America, five sections are generally recognized: Bromus, Genea, Ceratochloa, Neobromus, and Bromopsis. Sections Bromus and Genea are native to the Old World (Eurasia), but many species are introduced into North America. Sections Bromopsis, Neobromus, and Ceratochloa have several native species in North America.

Selected species

External links

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