Elymus glaucus (Blue Wildrye)


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Plant Description: Elymus glaucus is an upright tufted perennial grass, usually forming small clumps of grayish blue foliage. The surface of the blades is rough and usually flat; however, inrolled margins are also common. Leaves grow along the stems and form a claw-like junction where it veers away from the stalk (auricles). Flowers in April. Two narrow inflorescence spikelets emerge directly from each node - spikelets are 2 to 6 inches long and bear two wheat-colored florets, which turn golden brown later in the season.

  • Height: Up to 4 ft tall
  • Width: Loose, narrow leaves, less than half an inch wide. 
  • Watering needs: Low to moderate
  • Sun needs: Sun, partial shade
  • Soil needs: Moderate drainage
  • Bloom Time: Summer
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: Blue wildrye grows in open evergreen or deciduous forests, rocky slopes and clearings. In prairies, it sometimes dominates the area, forming large homogeneous colonies and a quite sightly landscape. This native plant is widespread across Western and Central North America, being most common at low to mid elevations. We recommend use in meadowscape and xerascape environments. 

Elymus glaucus is one of the tallest grasses in the west and it is an important source of food to both livestock and wild animals. Its main function is to provide habitat. Blue wildrye is also an excellent grass for stream bank restoration, meadow and swale seeding. It will look very attractive in the residential landscape as well, either as an accent or a filling plant.

*Photo by SevenOaks Nursery*

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