Fuzzy-spiked (Hairy) Wildrye

Leymus innovatus

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General Description

Fuzzy-spiked wildrye is sometimes called hairy wildrye, but is a different species than Elymus hirsutus, which is also commonly called hairy wildrye. Fuzzy-spiked wildrye is a tall, cool season, perennial tufted grass that is adapted to a wide range of soil conditions. It is sod-forming with a deep spreading root system and creeping scaly rhizomes. It is often used for native species site rehabilitation, as its rapidly spreading rhizomes are good for erosion control. 


Native grass.


Fuzzy-spiked wildrye is native to North America.


Fuzzy-spiked wildrye is considered short lived (i.e., 3–8 years).


Reclamation, grazing. An important native component to open forests, disturbed sites, and rangelands. It provides important winter forage for mountain sheep in the northern region.

Optimal Time of Use

Summer and fall for livestock, and winter for wildlife.

Recovery After Use

Most suited to one grazing per season.

Palatability/Nutritional Value

Only fair palatability due to its coarse rough foliage. However, recent studies suggest cattle show good gains in pastures where fuzzy-spiked wildrye is prominent.

Annual Precipitation min/max (mm)

400mm / 900mm.

Drought Tolerance

High drought tolerance.

Flooding Tolerance

Some flooding tolerance (i.e., 1-2 weeks in spring).

Winter Hardiness

As native a species, it is winter hardy where it is adapted.

Soil Texture Preference

Commonly found on sandy and gravelly textured soils.

Erosion Control

Rapidly spreading rhizomes make this species useful for controlling erosion when established.

Salinity Tolerance

Moderate tolerance.

Acidity Tolerance

Moderate tolerance.

Alkalinity Tolerance

Low tolerance.

Seeds per kg

577,000 seeds/kg (261,723 seeds/lb).

Suggested Mixtures

Fuzzy-spiked wildrye can be used in mixtures with other native species where this is the objective or adapted agronomic grasses.

Ease of Establishment

Fuzzy-spiked wildrye can be hard to grow from seed as germination can be low. Apply your specific seedlots germination to any seeding rate calculations.


Variable with site conditions

Management Considerations

Can be an increaser or decreaser species, depending on the site.

BC Rangeland Seeding Manual, USDA Plants Database

Fuzzy-spiked wildrye is common in native plant communities of the Peace-Liard region, and is often found in moist to dry meadows, grassy slopes and open forests.

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