Cheatgrass is a grass of medium height that grows mainly in the winter,
sets seed and dies by the hot summer months. The grass can be found in
other months as a dry stalk that droops from the top. Its panicle has
several branches that emerge off the sides of it.
Cheatgrass is native to Asia and has now been spread all over the US.
It was first reported in the late 1800's and then spread via the railways
accross the west. Today it covers more than 100 million acres.
One of the main problem areas is the Colorado Plateau and Nevada Basins
(see articles below). Cheatgrass in these areas has started to outcompete
the native grasses. Whats worse is that the native sheep, elk and deer
get no nutritional value from this grass like they would with the native
bunchgrasses of the region. Thus, these animals are starting to stave
in the areas where cheatgrass is beginning to dominate. Fortunately there
is a new herbicide that targets cheatgrass called 'Plateau'.
In the future, the effects of this noxious weed will hopefully be minimized.