E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Bromus carinatus Hook. & Arn.
California brome
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Hans Roemer  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #22950)

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Distribution of Bromus carinatus
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Bromus carinatus var. marginatus

Species Information

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Annual or biennial (sometimes perennial) grass from fibrous roots, often flowering in the first season; stems smooth to hairy, 30-100 (130) cm tall.
Sheaths closed to near the tops, sometimes smooth but usually soft-hairy at least at the throats and often copiously soft-hairy to greyish short-hairy; blades (2) 3-12 (15) mm wide, flat to somewhat in-rolled, smooth to rough or soft-hairy; ear-shaped lobes at the leaf-bases barely 0.5 mm long; ligules smooth to soft-hairy or jagged, 1-3 (6) mm long.
Inflorescence a somewhat narrow panicle, (5) 10-25 (30) cm long, the branches erect or ascending, less commonly spreading to reflexed; spikelets (4-) 5- to 10- (12-) flowered, strongly compressed, (1.5) 2-3 (4.5) cm long; florets mostly small, closed, self-fertilized; glumes lanceolate, keeled, the lower ones usually 3-nerved, 5-9 mm long, the upper ones (5) 7-nerved, up to nearly 2 times as long as the lower ones; lemmas smooth to rough short-hairy or strongly hairy, keeled, 10-13 mm long, shallowly bidentate at the tips, awned, the awns straight, 3-15 mm long; anthers 3, included within the lemmas to partially or completely exserted, 1-4 (5) mm long.
This is an extremely variable species consisting of numerous phases with mainly sympatric ranges. Two phases, var. linearis (with copiously soft-hairy sheaths and blades) and B. marginatus (with shorter awns), are sometimes given formal recognition. Hitchcock (1969) recognizes var. linearis and Hitchcock and Chase (1951) and Pavlick (1995) recognize B. marginatus, but there is no compelling evidence that they are taxonomically different. I have followed the treatments by Hitchcock (1969), Welsh (1974), Holmgren and Holmgren (1977) and Wilken and Painter (1993), which submerge B. marginatus within B. carinatus.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Spring
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry slopes, meadows and open forests in all but the alpine zone; common in S BC, less frequent northward; introduced in AK and YT, E to ON and S to ME, NY, IL, NE, NM, AZ, CA and MX.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Bromus carinatus

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 15 1154 2350
Slope Gradient (%) 0 34 105
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
4 193 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(2), BWBS(1), CDF(41), CWH(9), ESSF(75), ICH(23), IDF(27), IMA(1), MS(42), SBS(11)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, montane to subalpine, Western North American grass distributed more in the Cordilleran than the Pacific region. Occurs predominantly in continental climates on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-medium soils. Its occurrence increases with increasing temperature and continentality, and decreases with increasing precipitation. Scattered on water-shedding sites within boreal, temperate, cool semiarid, and marginally summer-dry mesothermal climates. Occasional in grassy communities and open­canopy, young-seral forests. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Bromus carinatus var. californicus (Nutt. ex Buckl.) Shear
Bromus carinatus var. carinatus Hook. & Arn.
Bromus carinatus var. hookerianus (Thurb.) Shear
Bromus carinatus var. marginatus
Bromus carinatus var. maritimus (Piper) C.L. Hitchc.
Bromus hookerianus
Bromus laciniatus Beal
Bromus marginatus Nees ex Steud.
Ceratochloa carinata (Hook. & Arn.) Tutin

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References