Red Brome

Bromus rubens L.

Synonyms - Anisantha rubens.

Family: Poaceae.


Bromus is the Greek word for oat.
Rubens means red.
Red brome refers to the red colour of the leaves and seed head.

Other Names:

Foxtail brome because the seed head resembles a foxes tail.
Foxtail chess
Red chess


A few stemmed, hairy leaved, annual grass with leaves and brush like, awned seed heads that turn reddish with age.





Parallel veins. Turns red or purple as they age. Leaves rolled in the shoot.
Blade - 100-300 mm long, 5-10 mm wide. Tapering to the tip. Dense, long, soft hairs or short bristles on upper and lower surface.
Ligule - Membranous, more than 2 mm long with a fringe or toothed.
Auricles - None.
Sheath - Tubular. Hairy especially on the lower leaves.
Collar - A lighter colour.


100-400 mm tall. One to several, erect, round and hollow with solid nodes. Hairy below the seed head (panicle). Generally has fewer stems than other brome grasses. Often bent at the nodes.

Flower head:

Compact, brush like and egg-shaped panicle, 40-100 mm long, with short, erect and hairy branches with groups of 7-12 spikelets. Turns red or purplish with age. Bristles that are often bent back give a spreading appearance to the flower head.


Spikelets - 12-30 mm long on short stalks (pedicels). Usually less than 30 mm including the awns. Partly obscured by purplish awns. Often hairy.
Florets - 4-14 per spikelet.
Glumes - Often red or purplish with broad translucent edges. Lower one 6-9 mm long, 1 nerved, rough to touch, purplish and hairy. Upper one 10-14 mm long, 3 nerved, rough to touch, wider than the lower glume.
Palea - 8-11 mm long. Keels have a few fine hairs.
Lemma - Upper one widely spreading. Rough to touch or hairy. Faintly 7 nerved. Narrow, thin and almost awl shaped. 10-16 mm long excluding the awn, broad membranous edges. Awn slightly longer than lemma, 15-22 mm long, and arises between 2, papery, 4-5 mm long, pointed lobes at the tip of the lemma. Awn is rough to touch and usually bent backwards at maturity. Lower lemmas are often red.
Stamens -
Anthers -
Disarticulates above the glumes and below the florets.



1 mm wide, 5 mm long.


Large fibrous root system.

Key Characters:


Life cycle:

Annual grass. Germinates autumn/winter. Flowers from July to November.



By seed.

Flowering times:

July to November in SA.
August to October in WA.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Germination often stimulated by cultivation.

Vegetative Propagules:



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

May form dense localised stands of single stemmed plants with few leaves.

Origin and History:




Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.




Common on sandy soils. Occurs on a wide range of other soil types.
Often seen on partially saline areas.

Plant Associations:



Fodder plant of reasonable value when young and green


A weed of disturbed areas, rotation and perennial crops and pastures especially in higher rainfall areas.


Not recorded as toxic.



Management and Control:

In pastures, graze heavily early in the season to reduce establishment and in spring to reduce seed set. Burn grassy stubble. Increase P, K and trace elements and reduce N applications. Plant competitive pasture species.


Eradication strategies:

Preventing seed set for 1-2 years will provide control. Mowing and cultivation is usually effective whilst burning is more variable. 500 mL/ha of glyphosate(450g/L) applied when the grass is very young or flowering is fairly selective in native vegetation, cheap and effective. Both an early and late application may be needed. For hand spraying, use 10 mL glyphosate in 10 L water and spray until just wet.
Selective control amongst broad-leaved plants can usually be achieved with 100 mL/ha Verdict®520 or 800 mL/ha Fusilade®Forte or 500 mL/ha quizalofop(100g/L) plus 1% spray oil. For hand spraying, use 100 mL of spray oil plus 2 mL Verdict®520 or 16 mL Fusilade®Forte or 10 mL quizalofop(100g/L) per 10 L water.
In bushland areas replant shrub and tree species if necessary to provide shade and help stop re-infestation.
Avoid introducing new seed in contaminated produce.

Herbicide resistance:

The first glyphosate resistant population was confirmed in WA in 2014.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Drooping Brome (Bromus tectorum) is mainly in Victoria and NSW and not recorded in WA.
Great Brome (Bromus diandrus var. diandrus and Bromus diandrus var. rigidus)
Madrid Brome (Bromus madritensis) tends to occur in drier areas.
Mediterranean Brome (Bromus lanceolatus) is not naturalised in WA and occurs mainly in Victoria and SA.
Prairie grass (Bromus catharticus)
Red Brome (Bromus rubens) tends to occur in drier areas.
Sand Brome (Bromus arenarius) is a native species.
Soft Brome (Bromus hordeaceus = Bromus mollis = Bromus molliformis)
Weedy Brome (Bromus alopecuros) Occasionally found in wheatbelt areas.

Plants of similar appearance:

Madrid Brome (B. madritensis) is very similar but has hairless branches in the flower head and Red Brome has a cluster of empty awned lemmas at the end of each spikelet whereas Madrid Brome does not.
Annual ryegrass, Barley grass, Brome grass, Darnel, Fountain grass, Guildford grass, Quaking grass, Sand fescue, Silver grass, Volunteer cereals, Wild oats, Toad rush, Winter grass.


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P39-40. Photo.

Black, J.M. (1978). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P136.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P29.

Ciba Geigy (1981) Grass Weeds 2. CIBA GEIGY Ltd, Basle, Switzerland. P42. Diagrams.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P70. Photo.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #200.10.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P946.

Paterson, J.G. (1977). Grasses in South Western Australia. (Western Australian Department of Agriculture Bulletin 4007). P32.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P23. Diagrams. Photos.


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