Ripgut Brome

2016-11-08-16-14-49Ripgut brome. How can you not be curious about a plant named ripgut brome?

I was certainly curious, after it took over my yard this spring. I’ve hauled countless wheelbarrow loads of ripgut brome to the compost pile, and I’m still finding it everywhere.

Ripgut brome (Bromus diandrus) is an annual grass native to the Mediterranean region. It probably arrived in New Zealand as a contaminant in grain, or in the wool of imported sheep. It’s a tall, sprawling plant, and seems to spring up overnight to suddenly form a dense thicket anywhere that isn’t regularly mown or grazed.

The leaves of ripgut brome are rough, and feel like sandpaper on bare legs and arms. They leave countless, fine scratches like paper cuts on the unwary weeder.

But the worst part of ripgut brome is the seed. Sharp, and covered in little hooks, the seeds catch and burrow into animals’ fur, eyes, skin, feet and intestines (I assume that’s where the name ripgut comes from).

And like all good weeds, it produces copious seeds (over 3000 per plant), aggressively outcompetes other plants, and is drought tolerant. It has also evolved herbicide resistance in some areas.

There’s only one thing for it on our property—to pull it up before the seeds mature. The good news is, that it’s got a shallow root system, so it’s not difficult to pull. The bad news is that it covers almost every inch of our acre and a half.

Sisyphus had it easy…

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