Prairie junegrass

(Koeleria macrantha)




Synonyms
Koeleria cristata Pers.
Description
Prairie junegrass is a tufted perennial, a foot or two high, with slender, erect, unbranched culms that are leafy at the base. The blades about 3 inches long and to 1/8" wide, the leaves at the base somewhat longer, stiffly ascending, usually somewhat rough with prominent veins. The inflorescence of prairie junegrass is a pale, shining, densely flowered panicle, 2-5" long tapering at both ends, with its short branches lying against the culm except when flowering. The spikelets have two to four flowers . The rachilla disarticulates above the glumes and between the florets.
Distribution and habitat
On the high desert Colorado Plateau prairie junegrass is found in open wooded areas growing at up to 9,000 feet. It grows on a variety of soils, but is most common on steep north-facing slopes. It flowers from May to October.
General information
All classes of livestock and several wildlife species utilize prairie Junegrass. It greens up earlier in the spring than most grasses and is often overgrazed early in the season. It grows actively and produces the bulk of its feed during the summer af ter the rains begin. Prairie Junegrass is more palatable to livestock in the spring and fall. The level of palatability decreases during seed production until curing is complete. In general, grazing conducted August through October is sustainable, if adeq uate moisture is available. Junegrass is an important forage plant in mountain pastures grazed during the winter and spring. Maintaining a 3-inch stubble is recommended.