Leymus arenarius - (L.) Hochst.
European Wildrye
Other English Common Names: Sand Ryegrass
Other Common Names: sand ryegrass
Synonym(s): Elymus arenarius L.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Leymus arenarius (L.) Hochst. (TSN 503432)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.153116
Element Code: PMPOA6P020
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Grass Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Monocotyledoneae Cyperales Poaceae Leymus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Leymus arenarius
Taxonomic Comments: As treated by Kartesz (1994), this species is European; the native North American plants sometimes placed here as var. villosus are instead treated by Kartesz within his Leymus mollis.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 18May1997
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (13Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Connecticut (SNA), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNA), New Hampshire (SNA), New York (SNA), Wisconsin (SNA)
Canada Ontario (SNA), Quebec (SNA), Saskatchewan (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CTexotic, ILexotic, INexotic, MA, MIexotic, NHexotic, NYexotic, WIexotic
Canada ONexotic, QCexotic, SKexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Medium/Low
Rounded I-Rank: Medium
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Leymus arenarius is established on lakeshore beaches and dunes along Lake Michigan, in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana. It is believed to be increasing and spreading throughout most of this range, and shores of the other Great Lakes as well as Atlantic and Pacific coastal dunes may represent suitable habitat as well. This species stabilizes previously unvegetated sand dunes and outcompetes native dune species, potentially impacting ecosystem structure, function, and composition. It is intentionally planted to stabilize dunes and control erosion where these services are desired and is also occasionally planted as an ornamental. It is capable of dispersing very long distances by ocean, as evidenced by its colonization of the volcanic island of Surtsey near Iceland. Control by hand-pulling is difficult due to sharp leaf edges, but herbicide treatments have been effective.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: Low
I-Rank Review Date: 24Sep2007
Evaluator: Gravuer, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Native to dunes and shifting sands on the coasts of Europe, including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the northern European part of the Russian Federation, France, and northwestern Spain (Saylor 2006, USDA-ARS 2007).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Lakeshore beaches and dunes along Lake Michigan (Voss 1972, Mohlenbrock 1986, Fewless 2002, Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2007).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Medium/Low

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Stabilizes previously unvegetated sand dunes (Kearns 2006, Smith 2007), although this impact should be reversible if plants are removed.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Moderate significance
Comments: Although the beach/dune communities that this species invades presumably have a significant component of perennial grasses already, its ability to invade previously unvegetated areas and to outcompete native species may result in significant density changes within these habitats (Fewless 2002, Smith 2007, Whitinger 2007).

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Fewless (2002) notes that it outcompetes the native flora.

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: No evidence of disproportionate impacts was found in the literature. However, this species has become established and begun to spread relatively recently (Fewless 2002, Kearns 2006), so it is possible that such impacts could be detected in the future.

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Moderate significance
Comments: Appears able to invade relatively undisturbed beach and dune communities (Fewless 2002).

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Low significance
Comments: Established in at least 11 counties flanking Lake Michigan, in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana; also reported from New York and Connecticut (Kartesz 1999, Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2007). Current generalized range occupies approximately 1% of US land area.

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Occupies a narrow geographic range and habitat, in which it is believed to be negatively affecting biodiversity (Fewless 2002, Smith 2007).

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: Approximately 3 ecoregions are invaded, based on visual comparison of the generalized range and ecoregions map (The Nature Conservancy 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Grows on lakeshore beaches and dunes along Lake Michigan (Fernald 1950, Voss 1972, Mohlenbrock 1986, Fewless 2002, Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2007, Wisconsin State Herbarium 2007), and has also been found at a few other widely scattered locations (Flora of North America Editorial Committee 2007), presumably in similar habitat. Escaped following a planting on coastal dunes in Connecticut (K. Metzler, pers. comm. 2007). Prefers full sun or at most light shade; prefers sandy soil, but may be able to grow in other soils as well; tolerant of drought, salt spray, and wind (Evans 2000, Plants for a Future 2003, Voigt 2004, Saylor 2006, Whitinger 2007).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Spreading quickly in Wisconsin, apparently increasing rapidly since the most recent decline of Lake Michigan water level, beginning in about 1998 (Fewless 2002). Discovered at new sites in Indiana in 2003 (Smith 2007). Reported as spreading by land managers in Michigan (Kearns 2006).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High/Low significance
Comments: Fewless (2002) notes that in Wisconsin it appears to be restricted to the Lake Michigan shoreline, but there is no obvious reason that it cannot spread to the Lake Superior shore as well. Presumably, shores of the other Great Lakes might also be invasible. Plants escaped following a planting on coastal dunes in Connecticut (K. Metzler, pers. comm. 2007), suggesting that dunes along the coasts might be suitable habitat as well. Unlikely to face significant climatic restrictions, as it is hardy from zone 4a to 9b and tolerant of drought, and will tolerate warm summers and higher humidity (Saylor 2006, Whitinger 2007).

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Used for dune stabilization and erosion control (Greipsson et al. 1997, Voigt 2004) and as an ornamental (Smith 2007, Whitinger 2007). Available as a plant material for conservation in Alaska (NRCS 2002). Capable of dispersing very long distances by ocean, as evidenced by its colonization of the volcanic island of Surtsey near Iceland (Nathan 2006).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Moderate significance
Comments: Spreading quickly in Wisconsin, apparently increasing rapidly since the most recent decline of Lake Michigan water level, beginning in about 1998 (Fewless 2002). Discovered at new sites in Indiana in 2003 (Smith 2007). Reported as spreading by land managers in Michigan (Kearns 2006).

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Moderate significance
Comments: Appears able to invade relatively undisturbed beach and dune communities (Fewless 2002).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:Moderate significance
Comments: Also established in Australia, New Zealand, southern south America, and sub Antarctic islands (Clayton et al. 2007). Largely a beach/dune species in these locations also (Plants for a Future 2003, Shaw and Allen 2003), although in Finland populations have apparently adapted to colonize low-salinity gravelly roadsides as well (Greipsson et al. 1997).

16. Reproductive Characteristics:Moderate significance
Comments: Spreads by both seed and quickly-spreading rhizomes (Greipsson et al. 1997, Voigt 2004). It is a facultative outbreeder, which enables small, isolated clumps to produce seed (Greipsson et al. 1997).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: Low

17. General Management Difficulty:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Hand-pulling is difficult because the edges of the leaves are very sharp and can cut fingers (Voigt 2004, Whitinger 2007); mowing or cutting back is not effective because it stimulates new growth (Voigt 2004). Herbicide appears to have been an effective control for small populations in Indiana, as no plants were seen in a follow-up visit one year later (Smith 2007).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:Low significance
Comments: Does not appear to have pronounced intrinsic seed dormancy (Greipsson and Davy 1995).

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Low significance
Comments: Herbicide spray may impact co-occurring natives, although in relatively sparse beach/dune communities, it is possible that the immediate vicinity of target plants would be free of other species.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance/Insignificant
Comments: Beach and dune habitats should present few accessibility problems, although the ornamental use of this species may lead to some infestations being located on private lands.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Clayton, W.D., K.T. Harman, and H. Williamson. (2007). GrassBase - The Online World Grass Flora. Online. Available: http://www.kew.org/data/grasses-db.html (Accessed 2007).

  • Dore, W.G. and J. McNeill. 1980. Grasses of Ontario. Monograph 26, Agriculture Canada, Research Branch, Biosystematics Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario. 566 pp.

  • Dore, W.G., and J. McNeill. 1980. Grasses of Ontario. Research Branch, Agriculture Cananda, Ottawa. 566 pp.

  • Evans, E. 2000. NC State University Plant Fact Sheets: Elymus arenarius (Leymus arenarius), Blue lyme grass. Online. Available: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/ornamental_grass/elymus_arenarius.html (Accessed 2007)

  • Fernald, M. L. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. 8th edition. Corrected printing (1970). D. Van Nostrand Company, New York. 1632 pp.

  • Fewless, G. 2002, 2007 last update. Invasive plants of northeastern Wisconsin. Herbarium, Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. Online. Available: http://www.uwgb.edu/biodiversity/herbarium/invasive_species/invasive_plants01.htm (Accessed 2007)

  • Flora of North America Editorial Committee. 2007a. Flora of North America North of Mexico. Vol. 24. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Poaceae, part 1. Oxford Univ. Press, New York. xxviii + 911 pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 910 pp.

  • Greipsson, S. and A. J. Davy. 1995. Seed mass and germination behavior in populations of the dune-building grass Leymus arenarius. Annals of Botany 76: 493-501.

  • Greipsson, S. and A. J. Davy. 1997. Responses of Leymus arenarius to nutrients: improvement of seed production and seedling establishment for land reclamation. Journal of Applied Ecology 34: 1165-1176.

  • Greipsson, S., H. Ahokan, and S. Vahamiko. 1997. A rapid adaptation to low salinity of inland-colonizing populations of the littoral grass Leymus arenarius. International Journal of Plant Sciences 158(1): 73-78.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kearns, K. 2006. 19 new invaders to watch for in 2006, brings the total to 34. Plants out of place: The newsletter of the Invasive Plants Association of Wisconsin 14: 6-8.

  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. 1986. Guide to the vascular flora of Illinois. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, Illinois. 507 pp.

  • Nathan, R. 2006. Long-distance dispersal of plants. Science 313: 786-788.

  • Oldham, M.J., S.J. Darbyshire, D. McLeod, D.A. Sutherland, D. Tiedje and J.M. Bowles. 1995 (1996). New and noteworthy Ontario grass (Poaceae) records. Michigan Botanist 34:105-132.

  • Plants for a Future. 2003, June 2004 last update. Plants for a future database. Available: http://www.pfaf.org/database/ (Accessed 2007).

  • Saylor, J. 2006. Plant Encyclopedia. Online. Available: http://www.msuplants.com/pd_search.html (Accessed 2007).

  • Shaw, W. B. and R. B. Allen. 2003. Ecological impacts of sea couch and saltwater paspalum in Bay of Plenty estuaries. DOC Science Internal Series 113. Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

  • Smith, S. 2007. Lyme grass. The Beachcomber, Dune Acres, IN (Summer 2007 edition): 6. Online. Available: http://www.duneacres.in.gov/beachcombersummer07.pdf (Accessed 2007)

  • The Nature Conservancy. 2001. Map: TNC Ecoregions of the United States. Modification of Bailey Ecoregions. Online . Accessed May 2003.

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2007 last update. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, MD. Online. Available: http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl (Accessed 2007).

  • United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA NRCS). 2002. Improved conservation plant materials released by NRCs and cooperators through September 2001. Online. Available: http://plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/mdpmcpureleases2001.pdf (Accessed 2007)

  • Voigt, T. 2004. Ornamental grasses. Golf Course Management (February 2004): 137-153. Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Online. Available: http://www.gcsaa.org/gcm/2004/feb04/PDFs/02Ornamental.pdf (Accessed 2007).

  • Voss, E.G. 1972. Michigan Flora: A Guide to the Identification and Occurrence of the Native and Naturalized Seed-Plants of the State. Part I: Gymnosperms and Monocots. Cranbrook Institute of Science and University of Michigan Herbarium, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 488 pp.

  • Voss, E.G. 1972. Michigan flora: A guide to the identification and occurrence of the native and naturalized seed-plants of the state. Part I. Gymnosperms and monocots. Cranbrook Institute of Science and Univ. Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor. 488 pp.

  • Whitinger, D. 2007. Dave's Garden: PlantFiles. Online. Available: http://davesgarden.com/pf/ (Accessed 2007)

  • Wisconsin State Herbarium. 2007. Wisconsin state herbarium vascular plant species database. Available: http://www.botany.wisc.edu/wisflora/. (Accessed 2007).

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