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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


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E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Pascopyrum smithii
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Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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)
909 25 2089
Slope Gradient (%)
12 0 65

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

178 40 270
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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