Italian Ryegrass (Multiflorum)

The Italian Ryegrass (Multiflorum) is generally described as a perennial graminoid. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the early spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until spring. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Italian Ryegrass (Multiflorum) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Italian Ryegrass (Multiflorum) will reach up to 2.5 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Italian Ryegrass (Multiflorum) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -8°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Italian ryegrass is primarily used for quick cover in erosion control plantings.

General Characteristics

Italian ryegrass is quite similar to perennial ryegrass except it is an annual or biennial, depending on climate and/or length of growing season. It may grow a little taller than perennial ryegrass, from 2 to 3 feet tall. Plants have a bunchy form, with numerous long, narrow, stiff leaves near the base of the plant. The under surfaces of leaves are bright, glossy, and smooth. Inflorescence stems are nearly naked. The seeds of this sub-species have awns (bristles).

Required Growing Conditions

These grasses have a wide range of adaptability to soils, but thrive on dark rich soils in regions having mild climates. They do not withstand hot, dry weather or severe winters. They will stand fairly wet soils with reasonably good surface drainage.

Italian ryegrass is distributed throughout the entire United States.

Cultivation and Care

A fine, firm seedbed gives the best results. Mulched seedings on graded soil germinate readily. Spring seedings of ryegrass may occur in March, April, or May. Seeding rates will vary with local conditions and purpose of plantings. Generally, a seeding rate of 20 to 25 pounds per acre is used if ryegrass is seeded alone. Lesser amounts per acre are used in mixtures, depending upon uses and companion species. Do not exceed 4 pounds per acre in mixes with alfalfa.

General Upkeep and Control

This section is under development.

Pests and Potential Problems This section is under development.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) Ryegrasses cross-pollinate freely so many types have developed. It is difficult to maintain their genetic purity; consequently, Italian ryegrass is marketed as common ryegrass or domestic ryegrass, and it is often a mixture of annual and perennial species. There is no certification of this seed since pure varieties of Italian ryegrass are almost non-existent.

Seed of cultivars and common annual ryegrass is readily available from local commercial suppliers.

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Graminoid
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Annual, Perennial
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Early Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 2.5
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Spring
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -8
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Moderate
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5–7.9 pH
Precipitation Range 18–18 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance High
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA