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Medusahead Wildrye Invades Montana

medusahead grass
Invasive weed – Medusahead Wildrye. (Jane Mangold/MSU Extension)
Montana State University scientists have confirmed that the invasive weed Medusahead Wildrye has been found in Sanders County on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The plant was discovered in western Montana in November by Bryce Christiaens, Missoula County weed coordinator. He sent samples to MSU where the identity of the weed was confirmed as the first found in the state.

According to an MSU news release, Medusahead is listed as a noxious weed in several states – Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and California.The grass has been seen in southwest Idaho, too, according to MSU botanist Matt Lavin. He says it often is found near rush skeletonweed on southwest-facing rangeland.

Rangeland weed specialist Jane Mangold said that once it dominates an area, the weed reduces the moisture for perennial grasses and its growing season is much like cheatgrass.

The plant has a high silica content, she said, which can injure eyes and mouths of grazing animals.

MSU Extension Services, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Lake County and Sanders County are developing a plan to manage the grass to try to stop its spread.

If you see such a plant, take a sample to your local extension agent and tell them where you found it.

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