Plant Profiles Desert Wheatgrass Agropyron Desertorum

Desert wheatgrass (Agropyron desertorum) is one of three types of wheatgrass from Asia. It grows well, in most areas where frost is minimal. However, it does grow in Alaska where temperatures reach -43F degrees. This grass does better where rainfall is less than twelve-fourteen inches and will outgrow any native grasses. It is drought tolerant, existing on only eight inches of annual precipitation. Since 1906, desert wheatgrass and crested wheatgrass have had no distinctions. Wheatgrass grows throughout North America.

Good foliage source

Farmers use this as a good foliage grass. It is safe for all livestock and wildlife. Deer, pronghorn, cattle and elk thrive well when placed in fields planted with desert wheatgrass.  In the spring, the grass has a high amount of protein and other nutrients. As the grass grows, the levels of protein remain high. In winter, users must add protein supplements to the animal’s feed to ensure it has enough.


Desert wheatgrass has a longer stem than the other species and is an oblong shape. It grows from one to three feet tall and has seedheads that long too. The roots grow deeper than those of crested wheatgrass, but they don’t spread out a lot. This plant has green and pale green coloring. It appears weed-like and blends in well with other grasses. It has yellow flower blossoms in the spring.

 Growing conditions

Desert wheatgrass needs soil that is mildly acidic to alkaline. It does not like soils with a high salt content. This plant makes a good ground cover because it looks more like brush than grass. This plant is a perennial and will continue growing year after year. It needs little outside help once established. This plant, which grows from seeds, needs full sun to grow well.

Where to find desert wheatgrass

Desert wheatgrass grows in the desert, in dry places, on ranges and burnout areas where other vegetation can’t grow. Desert wheatgrass has the potential to choke out exotic weeds and provide more beneficial food for livestock. It can establish itself in eroded areas and stabilize lands that might otherwise be unproductive. It is an excellent recovery plant.

Other wildlife

Rabbits, birds and mice use this plant extensively. Birds build their nests in the grass. Passerine birds especially like it. When the availability of the seeds is low, mice populations decline. 

Overgrazing the plant or no grazing of the plant can cause it to stop growing and turn it into what people call wolf or stag plants. Nothing will eat these.