Rye-grasses (Elymus sp.) are a group of generally perennial grasses widely distributed within western North America. These plants were put to multiple uses by the aboriginal populations inhabiting their geographical area of distribution. This region stretches from British Columbia to northern Mexico, encompassing the Great Basin and California culture areas, which will be the primary regions discussed here. Some of these groups used the grain provided by the rye-grasses for food, others utilized the straight canes for arrow shafts, used the roots to make brushes, or used the foliage in basketry, house construction, or bedding. Different groups generally had different suites of uses for and conceptions concerning these grasses. These conceptions and uses were governed by the specific species involved, the other grasses available to the group, and the particular environmental conditions prevailing.
Key Words: Rye-grass, Great Basin, Ethnobotany