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Perennial Ryegrass

Saturday 11th August 2001, West Yorkshire

perennial ryegrassryegrass leafTHE FLOWERHEAD of Perennial Ryegrass is a familiar sight at this time of year. Like the Annual Meadow-grass that I was drawing a week ago, it grows on wasteground, at roadsides and in pastures as well as here on our front lawn. Also like the meadow-grass, it's planted for grazing and hay-making. I've included just one of several internet sites promoting particular varieties of the plant for particular climates and seasons.

The flowerhead is arranged like a herring bone. The 'ribs' alternate while the 'backbone' veers sinuously from side to side between the individual flowers. I tried ryegrass ligulesketching the ligule (left), the straplike membrane in each leaf joint, but this one doesn't quite look like the perfect example in the book. The Reader's Digest Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of Britain describes the ligule as 'short, membranous'. The base of the leaf-blade 'has two claw-like lobes clasping the stem'. I'm going to have to keep sketching these little details to really get my eye in.

Italian Ryegrass is a similar species that is often planted, but I can tell this is our native Perennial Ryegrass because, in the Italian version, each flowerhead has a projecting bristle. These bristles are botanically known as awns, which comes from a Viking word for 'husk' or 'chaff'.next page

Related Link

Perennial Ryegrass International Forage Factsheet.

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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