Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Wheatgrass, slender

A green spikelet tinged with purple

Slender wheatgrass is a bunchgrass growing to a height of 1 to 2½ feet, usually without rhizomes, but tillering freely. It starts growth in mid spring, and seeds mature by August to September. It is native to much of the West, rarely abundant, but common in a number of plant communities. It is found at elevations from 6,000 to 13,500 feet on gentle to steep mountain slopes, valley bottoms, and rolling hills. It occurs on practically all of the mountain and high mountain sites, but only on a few of the upland sites.

Under good management, it is moderately drought resistant as well as resistant to long wet periods. It prefers deep, well-drained, medium- to fine-textured soils that are well developed. It is not considered tolerant of salt. Associated species include mountain brome, yarrow, Junegrass, aspen, cottonwood, and big sagebrush.

Its forage value is good, diminishing in palatability in the latter part of the growing season. In general, an excellent forage grass for cattle, horses, sheep, elk, and deer and, valuable as cover and feed for many forms of small mammals and upland game birds as well as songbirds. Later in the growing season, it becomes slightly coarse and stemmy.

Grazing management should take into account the fact that it is sensitive to grazing, especially by cattle. Serves as an indicator of trend in associated valuable species, since it withstands moderate grazing well but will decrease under heavy grazing. Erosion control values are excellent, because it will quickly establish from seed.

*Description courtesy of Utah State University's Range Plants of Utah.

Bunch growth habit with tall, upright stems
Green inflorescence, which is very narrow and long

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer..

NMSU does not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, retaliation, serious medical condition, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, spousal affiliation or protected veteran status in its programs and activities as required by equal opportunity/affirmative action regulations and laws and university policy and rules. For more information please read the NMSU Notice of Non-discrimination (opens in new window).