Cheatgrass is a species of exotic grass common in Zion. It has the ability to abruptly change and overtake an ecosystem. The arid southwest is particularly prone to its proliferation because of its ability to germinate in the fall and spring, quickly grow a large root system, produce a profusion of seeds which mature earlier than those of many native grasses, and respond well to disturbance. This plant was introduced inadvertently in the late 1800s, filling voids in the natural ecosystem created by the grazing of livestock. The park’s resource management team has conducted groundbreaking herbicidal treatments to control the undesired growth of cheaters in areas affected by fires. The team is also doing extensive research on the best treatment methods to manage this invasive species. Cheatgrass' unfortunate success is still apparent today and poses challenges to the preservation of Zion’s unique native biological diversity.
This specimen was collected by Angus Woodbury. Woodbury studied vegetation succession in Zion Canyon and collected over 500 specimens for the ZION herbarium from 1925-1930. His collections resulted in the documentation of at least 287 new species for the Zion flora. Woodsbury published one of the earliest ecological studies of Zion Canyon.
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