Virginia Wildrye

Elymus virginicus



Special Note: Frank Gould in The Grasses of Texas states E. virginicus hybridizes with E. canadensis and other Elymus species.  This table should help distinguish the two species where minimal hybridization has occurred: 
CHARACTERISTIC  Elymus canadensis  Elymus virginicus 
Seedhead  Nodding seedhead, especially by maturity  Stiffly erect seedhead 
Glumes  Sharp “V” shaped  Bowed out “U” shaped 
Awns  Long and divergent  Straight and short 
  Virginia Wildrye grows in small clusters with stems of up to 2ft or 120 cm.  Leaves are usually hairless, flat, light green turning to a tan or golden brown at maturity, and up to 120 cm. The leaf auricles are well-developed and clasping.   The inflorescence is a stiffly erect, bristly spike that remains straight through maturity. It reaches up to 15 cm long and is often partly included in the upper sheath. It has two to four spikelets per node and flowers from April to June. Glumes are yellowish, hard, and strongly bowed out at the base into a “U” shape. Lemma awns usually are no more than 2.5 cm long and straight.  A grass of open rangeland if moisture is adequate. Virginia Wildrye is a perennial, cool-season, native which provides excellent forage for livestock but only fair grazing for wildlife. 


Grows on shaded banks, fence rows, and open woodlands. It prefers sites with higher moisture but tolerates drier habitats than E. canadensis.