PERENNIAL RYE GRASS (Lolium perenne L.)
Plate 14A; Seed, Plate 27, Fig. 24.
Other English names: English Rye or Ray Grass, Common Darnel.
Botanical description: This grass is perennial with a creeping rootstock from which bunches of leafy stems and sterile shoots develop. The plants thus grow in spreading tufts, which consist of minor tufts connected by the elongated branches of the rootstock. The stems are strictly upright or more or less knee-bent ascending. They are slender, smooth, and generally one or two feet high. The leaves are usually dark green and folded together when in bud. In this respect they differ from those of Italian Rye which are rolled in the bud. The flowers are arranged in a characteristic spikelike inflorescence, composed of a number of flattened spikelets in two rows. The spikelets are solitary at each joint and the spike is there-fore somewhat similar to that of Western Rye and Couch Grass. In Perennial Rye, however, the spikelets turn their narrow side toward the main stem, whereas in Western Rye and Couch Grass they turn their broad side toward the stem. For this reason the spike of Perennial Rye becomes strongly flattened, those of Western Rye and Couch Grass being more cylindrical. A spikelet contains from five to nine flowers, each enclosed within two awnless glumes.
Geographical distribution: Perennial Rye Grass is indigenous to almost all Europe, northern Africa and the temperate parts of Asia. It was introduced into Canada and the United States and is now widely distributed, especially in the eastern provinces.
Habitat: It occurs naturally in waste places and cultivated fields, on roadsides, in meadows and along borders of woods.
Cultural conditions: It prefers moist, rich clays and loams and in suitable soil the growth is luxuriant. It can be successfully grown on marshy land or on any good, well-drained soil. Stagnant water has a disastrous effect upon it. It becomes tough and wiry on dry, sterile soil and generally disappears after the second year.
Climate: Although able to stand considerable drought, it can-not be recommended for districts where the summer is hot and dry, and for this reason it will never be of importance for the Prairie