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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Sand Wildrye - Elymus flavescens
Other Names:  Leymus flavescens

Species of Concern

Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S1S2
* (see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM: SENSITIVE
MNPS Threat Rank: 2
C-value:

External Links






State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Sand wildrye occurs at the edge of its range in Montana, where it is known from one small population in the Centennial Valley sandhills. It requires early successional sandy habitats, which are localized in sand deposition areas of the dunes. This habitat is at risk from dune succession and stabilization that can result from suppression of natural disturbance regimes such as fire and grazing.
 
General Description
Stems solitary to few-bunched, 60–100 cm. Leaves: blades 3–6 mm wide, inrolled. Inflorescence 10–22 cm long, the rachis continuous and erect. Spikelets mostly 2 per node, 10–20 mm long; glumes narrow, faintly 3-nerved, tapering to an awn-tip. Lemmas mostly 2 to 5 per spikelet, copiously long-hairy, awnless or awn-tipped (Lavin in Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Phenology
Fruiting occurs in July-August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
The long-hairy, almost feathery appearance of the spikelets separates this species from other members of Elymus and Agropyron (sensu lato). Elymus innovatus is also rhizomatous with hairy lemmas, but the hairs are not nearly as long, and the spikes are usually less than 10 cm in length.

Species Range
Present
 


Range Comments
WA and OR, east to southern ID and southwest MT. Peripheral.

Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 6

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Habitat
Sand wildrye occurs in sandy soils throughout its range. In Montana it is found in sand-deposition areas of sand dunes, where it is associated with Stipa comata and Agropyron caninum. The species has also been found on sandy roadsides.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species

Ecology
Historically, the early successional, open-sand habitat required by this species was maintained by a fire cycle of 20-30 years and ungulate grazing. Pocket gopher (Thomomys talpoides) activity also appears to be an important force in initiating blowouts and maintaining early seral vegetation (Lesica and Cooper 1998).

Management
Plant succession in open sand areas leads to a reduction in the open-sand habitat this plant requires (Lesica and Cooper 1998). Its early successional habitat could likely be maintained with restoration of the historic fire regime and moderate grazing, at least in years following burns. Compaction and severe disturbance by off-road vehicle use may also damage its habitat.

References
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Citation for data on this website:
Sand Wildrye — Elymus flavescens.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from