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

Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) Á. Löve
western bluegrass (bluestem wheatgrass; western wheatgrass)
Poaceae (Grass family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants
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Distribution of Pascopyrum smithii
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Species Information

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Perennial grass from conspicuous rhizomes; stems smooth, 20-100 cm tall.
Sheaths smooth; basal leaves in loose tufts, shorter than the stem leaves; blades 1-4.5 mm wide, 2-26 cm long, the leaves decreasing in length upwards, the nerves prominent on the upper surfaces; ligules up to 0.1 mm long, membranous; ear-shaped lobes at the leaf-bases 0.2-1 mm long, clasping the stems.
Inflorescence a terminal, 2-ranked spike, 5-17 cm long, 4-10 mm wide, with 1 spikelet per node, occasionally the spikelets paired; spikelets 2- to 12-flowered, 12-26 mm long; glumes lanceolate, unequal, rigid, somewhat curved, 5-15 mm long, 3-5 nerved from midlength or lower; lemmas 6-14 mm long, unawned or with awns 0.5-5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic slopes in the steppe and montane zones; infrequent in BC east of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, locally common in NE BC (Peace River grasslands); E to PQ and S to ME, MA, NY, GA, TN, TX, NM, AZ, NV and OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Pascopyrum smithii

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) 25 909 2089
Slope Gradient (%) 0 12 65
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
40 178 270
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 3 7
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), CWH(2), IDF(21), PP(14), SBS(1)


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 cool temperate & cool semiarid.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Agropyron molle (Scribn. & J.G. Sm.) Rydb.
Agropyron smithii Rydb.
Agropyron smithii var. molle (Scribn. & J.G. Sm.) M.E. Jones
Agropyron smithii var. palmeri (Scribn. & J.G. Sm.) A. Heller
Agropyron smithii var. smithii
Elymus smithii (Rydb.) Gould
Elytrigia smithii (Rydb.) Nevski
Elytrigia smithii var. mollis (Scribn. & J.G. Sm.) Beetle

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References