Previously known as Elymus cinereus. Sometimes called Great Basin Wildrye.
Basin Wildrye is an unusually large, robust bunchgrass averaging 2 to 5 feet tall. Under irrigation some varieties can grow up to 8 feet tall. It starts growth in early spring, the seeds mature by August. It is noted for its deep blue-green color.
Basin wildrye is native to Utah and grows on riverbanks, in ravines, on moist or dry slopes, and on plains at elevations from 4500 on up to the steep mountain slopes at 10,000 feet elevation. It is adapted to areas with 15 to 25 inches of annual precipitation, and is usually found on sites where extra moisture is available, such as riparian sites or ponds. It is adapted to a wide range of soils from clay and silty soils in the deserts to coarse textured, gravelly, and stony soils. It does well in moderately saline soils.
Basin wildrye is quite fire tolerant. It recovers well, especially if associated shrubs have been killed. It is not tolerant of heavy grazing, due to the high position of the growth buds (4 to 6 inches above the soil). Basin wildrye is highly palatable to elk in spring and summer, and highly palatable to mule deer in spring. It provides important cover and winter forage for elk and deer. It also provides habitat for upland game birds and food for songbirds and small mammals.
Basin wildrye provides excellent surface erosion control and soil stabilization and can be a valuable restoration species wherever moisture is adequate. It can be hard to establish due to a lack of highly germinable seed.
Magnar, Trailhead and VNS are available.