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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Soft brome  (Bromus hordeaceus)

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Life stages of Soft brome influorescence collar mature plant

Soft brome, also called soft chess, is a widely distributed annual at lower elevation areas in California, especially in open, disturbed areas. Plants are found mostly up to 3300 feet (about 1000 m) and occasionally up to 7000 feet (2100 m). Soft brome inhabits agricultural land and disturbed sites in plant communities. It is able to colonize sites with low soil fertility.


Grassland, sagebrush communities, rangeland, fields, open disturbed sites, roadsides, orchards, vineyards, and agronomic crop fields.


Seed germination starts in fall.

Young plant

Young plants grow rapidly during fall with available moisture and slow down through winter. Resuming rapid growth in spring, plants reach maturity in early summer.

Mature plant

Plants reach 4 inches to more than 2 feet (61 cm) tall and are distinguished by dense, soft hairs on sheaths.

Collar region

Ligules are membranous. There are no auricles.


Soft brome blooms from April through July. Compact spikelets form dense flowering heads with needlelike awns about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch (0.64–1.3 cm) long, usually straight, but sometimes curved outward.


Soft brome reproduces by seed.

Related or similar plants

  • Ripgut brome, Bromus diandrus
  • Rescuegrass, Bromus catharticus

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