Dahurian Wildrye

Elymus dahuricus

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General Description

Dahurian wildrye is a short-lived, shallow-rooted perennial bunchgrass. It tends to be a less used species even through it establishes quickly. Dahurian wildrye and slender wheatgrass are now classified within the same genus.  

The stems of Dahurian wildrye are erect and can grow to 100 to 150 cm (39 to 60 in) high. The leaves are 11 to 15 mm wide with prominent veining, and lax with long (130 to 235 mm or 5 to 9 in) leaf sheaths and internodes. The leaves are high on the stem. The seed is generally longer and wider than that of Russian wildrye, Psathyrostachys juncea, and frequently has awns 10 to 20 mm (.4 to .8 in) in length.


Tame grass.


Siberia, Mongolia, China. Varieties “James” and “Arthur” developed in Canada.


Less than 5 years. Low persistence.


Pasture, hay. Dahurian wildrye is used primarily for short-term pasture or hay forage, but because of its adaptability, ease of establishment, and shorter life span, it may have some application in restoration. It can establish very quickly.

Optimal Time of Use

Spring, summer. Dahurian wildrye can be continually grazed, but responds best to rotational grazing for maximized regrowth. Dahurian wildrye begins growth early and should be grazed before it gets coarse. It can be used in the year of establishment, especially under moister site conditions. Hay at heading for best palatabilty.

Recovery After Use

Requires a minimum 30 to 60 days of recovery after use. Dahurian wildrye is quick to regrow and can be grazed 2 to 3 times within the season, soil zone dependant.

Palatability/Nutritional Value

Dahurian wildrye is quite palatable and has good forage quality when it is growing. Palatability decreases after heading. Unlike Russian wildrye, it does not cure well standing, although when cut at the immature stage hay quality may be as good as crested wheatgrass.

Annual Precipitation min/max (mm)

300mm / 600mm

Drought Tolerance

Good tolerance.

Flooding Tolerance

Withstand up to 4 weeks of flooding in the spring. Tolerates moist soils well.

Winter Hardiness

Good hardiness. Short longevity overall.

Soil Texture Preference

Dahurian wildrye can be grown on a wide range of soil textures.

Erosion Control

Dahurian wildrye is not suitable for erosion control. 

Salinity Tolerance

High tolerance.

Acidity Tolerance

Low tolerance.

Alkalinity Tolerance

Moderate tolerance.

Seeds per kg

194,000 seeds/kg (88,000 seeds/lb)

Suggested Mixtures

Suitable for mixtures. Dahurian wildrye can be paired with other short lived forages for a short lived stand. Otherwise, use Dahurian wildrye as a short lived, starter species with long lived forages that will take over a stand as Dahurian wildrye dies out. Darhurian wildrye will compete strongly in a new stand.

Ease of Establishment

Dahurian wildrye is easily established, has excellent seedling vigour, and is very competitive with other crops such as legumes.


Dahurian wildrye is very competitive in the year of establishment but becomes less competitive as the stand ages. It will die out of the stand in less than 5 years. Dahurian wildrye is not considered invasive.

Management Considerations

Dahurian wildrye is sometimes seeded in wide or perpendicular rows with other longer-lived perennials to provide additional forage in the first year of establishment. Manage for short term use.

British Columbia Rangeland Seeding Manual, Saskatchewan Dryland Forage Species Adaptation Tool, USDA Plants Database, Manitoba Forage Adaptation and Comparison Guide, Alberta Forage Manual

Dahurian wildrye is adapted to all zones in the Central Interior, but is less adapted to the driest (semi-arid) parts of the bunchgrass zone. 

Dahurian wildrye is adapted to all zones in the Southern Interior, but is less adapted to the driest (semi-arid) parts of the bunchgrass zone. 

Dahurian wildrye has moderate to high winter hardiness, but can winter kill in very severe winters. Trials with this species would help establish its suitability for use in the Peace-Liard region.