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Perennial ryegrass
(Lolium perenne)


Comprises some 90% of new pasture sowings in New Zealand, and forms the basis of most improved pastures. Requires high fertility and shows only moderate drought tolerance.

Vegetative identification

  • Leaf blade with 'corrugated iron' ribs on upper surface, a deep 'v' shaped groove at the midrib, and a shiny lower surface;

  • emerging leaf is folded, whereas in Italian ryegrass it is rolled. Mature leaf width also wider in Italian ryegrass (compare);

  • red colour usually present at the sheath base (but at times concealed by outer dead leaves);

  • auricles small, may be absent.
  • Spikelets of 4-8 florets (seeds) arranged alternately along an unbranched stem (a spike);

  • awns absent from tips of seed lemmas (but present in Italian ryegrass);

  • seed-heads of couch look somehwat similar, but have a blue-green colour with the spiklets turned 'flat-side' towards the stem.

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Page last modified on 25 February 2003 and will expire on 1 January 2004