Information on Italian Rye Grass

Overview

Italian Ryegrass is also known as Lolium multiflorum, short rotation ryegrass, Australian ryegrass, Westerwolds ryegrass and annual ryegrass. It is a monocot and either biennial or annual. It is cultivated both as a cover crop and for silage. Italian Ryegrass is also grown for ornamental purposes.

Distribution

Italian ryegrass originated in Europe and is cultivated in temperature areas. It has been grown in Italy since the 13th and 14th centuries. Italian ryegrass grows throughout the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska. It is classified as an invasive plant in some parts of the United States.

Nutrition

Italian ryegrass is a vital forage crop for livestock, which finds this variety of grass highly palatable. It possesses a high percentage of fiber in addition to protein and ash. White-tailed deer and meadow mice also consume Italian ryegrass,.

Characteristics

Italian ryegrass is a type of bunch grass that has reclining, spreading or erect culms that can grow to be 50 inches in height. Their spikelets feature between 11 and 22 flowers. When irrigated, the roots are shallow. Without irrigation, Italian ryegrass has a fibrous root system that is more than 3 feet deep.

Cultivation

Italian ryegrass can thrive in many types of soil. However, it prefers soil that is well-drained. Italian ryegrass needs soil of moderate to high fertility to thrive. This grass does not tolerate dry or hot weather, and it does not tolerate shade. It is capable of surviving brief periods of flooding. Italian ryegrass can be grown in the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) plant hardiness zones of three to eight.

Regeneration

Italian ryegrass is self-incompatible, which means it cannot fertilize itself or engage in outcrossing. It regenerates via seed, which are scattered, most commonly, by animals. It germinates easily with enough moisture. The seeds germinate quickly and do not require pretreatment. Italian ryegrass has high germination rates. Its seeds are merely present for a short period of time (late summer into early autumn).

Keywords: Italian ryegrass, Lolium multiflorum, annual ryegrass

About this Author

Isabel Prontes is a freelance writer and traveler residing in Manhattan, NY. She has traveled to five continents and counting. Her work has appeared on a number of websites, such as Travels, eHow.com and "Happy Living Magazine." Prontes has a professional background in public relations; she received a bachelor's degree in communication studies from Pace University.