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Great Basin Wildrye

Giant Grass of the Desert

Great Basin wildrye, (Elymus cinereus), king of
the desert grasses, thrives in riparian areas, but
also grows well in sagebrush country and open
woodlands. This perennial grass was well
known to Native Americans and homesteaders
alike. Native Americans harvested its seeds
during the summer and ground them into
flour. They used the tall, coarse stalks to weave
mats and floor covrings. Early settlers sought
this plant as an indicator f tillable soil and a
good water table. Cattle and other herbivores
find this grass palatable until summer when
the dnse clumps dry at which time the plant
provides valuable shade and cover for the
desert's many small creatures.

Great Basin wildrye grows in dense
clumps 1-2 feet wide and is common
throughout eastern Oregon.

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