Medusahead: natural successor to the cheatgrass type in the northern grasslands
Document Type: Conference Paper
Author(s): M. Hironaka
Editor(s): Stephen B. Monsen; Stanley G. Kitchen
Publication Year: 1994

Cataloging Information

  • biomass
  • Bromus
  • Bromus tectorum
  • competition
  • decomposition
  • fire management
  • grasses
  • grasslands
  • grazing
  • Idaho
  • invasive species
  • livestock
  • Oregon
  • plant growth
  • post fire recovery
  • range management
  • rangelands
  • seed production
  • seedlings
  • Sitanion hystrix
  • Sitanium hystrix
  • succession
  • Taeniatherum
  • Taeniatherum asperum
  • Washington
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 28, 2022
FRAMES Record Number: 35946
Tall Timbers Record Number: 10282
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.88:INT-3/3
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Medusahead (Taeniatherum asperum) has replaced cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) and other annual grasses over extensive areas in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington during the past 40 years. It has low palatability, injurious, and pesky awns, and completely dominates affected areas. Avoidance by livestock and resistance to rapid decomposition result in medusahead stands with thick accumulations of old growth. Wildfires are common. Recovery to preburn levels of biomass and density is achieved in a few years. One perennial-grass candidate to replace medusahead is bottlebrush squirrelhead (Sitanion hystrix). Seedlings of this grass possess some needed traits to endure the stresses of annual grass competition during the first growing season.

Online Link(s):
Hironaka, M. 1994. Medusahead: natural successor to the cheatgrass type in the northern grasslands. Pages 89-91 in Monsen, Stephen B., Kitchen, Stanley G., Proceedings - Ecology and Management of Annual Rangelands, May 18-21, 1992, Boise, ID. General Technical Report INT-GTR-313. Ogden, UT: USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 416 p.