Tuesday, April 04, 2006

soft chess, Bromus hordeaceus, March–July, Europe

Soft chess has naturalized in all continents except Antarctica, and is widely distributed in North America. It is most common in low-elevation valleys and foothills of California and southwestern Oregon where the climate is Mediterranean. Its spikelets are nearly circular in cross-section and are soft to the touch because of their hairs. It dominates or is co-dominate in numerous California annual grassland communities.

Species composition in California grassland is complex and varied, reflecting slight differences in climate, topography, and soil type—as well as gopher activity (tunnel digging), which is the subject of a long-term study by Richard Hobbs on serpentine at Jasper Ridge, where soft chess is established. Year to year compositional changes on the same site due to weather and gopher disturbance can be dramatic.

Name: ancient Gk name | Hordeum-like.