The Awnless Brome

The Awnless Brome is a grass that you might not notice at first, but once you do, the burgundy or violet colour and the cigar-shaped small spikes are fairly easy to recognize. The small spikes lacks bristles (they are “unarmed” - "inermis") or they are very short. Furthermore, the spikes have glumes with a broad, light border that contrasts with the reddish-brown. The Awnless Brome is perennial and disperses easily by underground runners. The name Bromus comes, like so many other plant names, from the Greek βρῶμος which means "corn".

The Awnless Brome can be found on dry sandy soils, often on roadsides or embankments. It is distributed across all the Nordic countries but is most common in the south. It is believed that the species has been sown and then naturalized in the Nordic region.

Since the Awnless Brome can grow up to 120 cm high, and produces a substantial amount of leaf mass, it has been used as a forage grass. According to Oswald (1959) breeding of Bromus inermis was initiated in Sweden in the 1930s. The goal was a drought tolerant grass suitable for lighter soils. However, this species has never been a "best seller" in Sweden and today there are no cultivars on the 'Swedish variety list. However, one variety can be found on the Finnish variety list, 'Kesto', and two on the Norwegian list, 'Lom' and 'Leif'.


The Awnless Brome was described by the German Friedrich Wilhelm von Leyssner who was a Prussian officer and botanist in Halle and, among other things, published “Flora Halensis” (1761). Leyssner corresponded with Linnaeus and one may well ask why not Linnaeus described the species himself. Well, someone has to be the first and in the case of the Awnless Brome it seems like the species was not yet found in Sweden at that time. The first recording of the species in Sweden is from Uppsala in 1816 and by then Linnaeus had already been dead for 38 years.

Text: Jens Weibull and Anna Palmé, photos by Svein Solberg


References

Osvald, H., 1959. Åkerns nyttoväxter.

Den virtuella floran, http://linnaeus.nrm.se/flora/mono/poa/bromu/bromine.html (2017-02-28)

Mossberg, B. and Stenberg, L. (2010). Den nya nordiska floran. Bonnier Fakta.


Contact person: Anna Palmé, anna.palme@nordgen.org