This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
At the present day this pernicious plant is found in the North Temperate Zone in Europe, N. Africa, W. Siberia, and India, and has been introduced in N. America. Watson states that it has been found in sixty-four counties, but does not cite them, and says only: "It seems needless to enumerate counties and authorities in detail for a plant so uncertain of being refound in the same places (fields or even farms) from year to year". It is found as far north as the Shetlands, and in the Channel Islands and Ireland.
Regarded as a colonist by Watson, this plant is a very widespread grass, in most parts of the country growing on cultivated land, and coming up like other weeds spontaneously in cornfields as well as in waste places, being found sometimes with foreign plants, as well as in refuse thrown out at a mill in ballast, etc.
The stem is erect, with much the same habit as Rye, rough, with hairs turned back. There are no underground stems as in the latter. The membrane is quite short.
The panicle is a spike, with long-awned spikelets, of which there are six, less than the glume, or equal to it, the lower palea or inner glume being awned. The empty glume is longer, the upper glume divided into two halfway. The flowering glumes are swollen when in fruit.
Darnel is 18 in. in height. The flowers are in bloom in June up to August. It is annual, and the seeds are poisonous.
Photo. H Irving - Darnel (Lolium temulentum, L.)
The spikelets are disposed in a 2-ranked spike, and in 2 rows, with 3 stamens, distant feathery stigmas. The flowers are 3 to many, and anemo-philous, pollinated by the wind.
The fruit is poisonous, light, and adhering" to the palea, and is dispersed by the wind.
Darnel is a sand plant, and addicted to a sand soil.
Lolium, Pliny, is the Latin name for the plant, and the second Latin name, meaning "intoxicating", refers to its reputed effects upon those who eat it.
Darnel is called Bragge, Cheat, Cockle, Darnel, Dornel, Dragge, Drake, Drank, Dravick, Droke, Drunk, Drunken Plant, Eaver, Ivray, Jum, Lover's Steps, Ray, Riely, Rivery, Sturdy. The name Riely is thus explained by a writer of the early nineteenth century: "Well known in most counties in Ireland by the name Rileh and Rivery, for its intoxicating quality, whether taken in bread or drink. The Gaelic name is Ruintelais, called the loosening or purgative grass, from runnec, grass, and teaclach, loosening. A writer remarks as to the name Sturdy: "Near the sea-coast a sort of Poyson, I take it, called darnell, rises in the oats and other grain, very offensive to the brain, and cannot be cleaned out of the corn; ye country people call it sturdy, from the effects of making people light-headed". The seeds cause giddiness, and there is a vertigo in sheep called "Sturdy" or "Staggers", hence probably the application to Darnel, and meat is said to be sturdied when it has much Darnel.
"But Bragge amongst the corn aspires proudlie Onemphe eau lookinge above the reste, Advancing his brighte creste presumptuouslie Even to the stars, as though he were the beste, Who, being lighte, and fruitlesse of all grayne, For want of weight, showes all pride is vayne."
It is called Cheat, "from its resemblance to the grain amongst which it grows - a name applied, for the same reason, in some places to Bromus secalinus, L.".
"Darnel groweth amonge the corne," says Turner, "and the corne goeth out of kynde into darnel." Drunk refers to its intoxicating qualities.
Cokkil Meal, as it was called, was supposed to cure freckles. In Chaucer's clay it was used for "festour and morsowe".
Essential Specific Characters: 342. Lolium temulentum, L. - Stem erect, tall, leaves flat, long, ligule short, awn long, glumes longer than the spikelets.
Flowers Of The Sea-Coast vol. II.
The maritime flora is composed of halophytes, which require a certain amount of salts, such as common salt, gypsum, magnesium chloride, in which to grow, making a saline soil. Such plants are little affected by altitude, and are cosmopolitan, e.g. Salsola Kali, Glaux maritima. Salsola also occurs in cornfields as a weed.
The flora is poor and open. The plants are xerophytes, for saline soil is physiologically dry: that is to say, the water, though abundant, is not available for absorption. They are unusually succulent, and have thick palisade-tissue to prevent transpiration being too free. They are at first dark-green, then yellowish, as a salt solution is not compatible with chlorophyll being made in the tissues. They have waxy coats, hairy coverings, thick, leathery, glossy leaves, assisting them to resist intense light, drought, etc. Doubtless the halophytic characteristics are counteracted by the xerophytic tendency, too much salt being deleterious even to halophytes. The rate of the absorption of water is slow owing to the saline matter in the soil. Transpiration is checked by the xerophytic character of the leaves and stem. The amount of water passing through the plant is thus limited, and the necessity for a reduction of surface and other adaptations to drought is thus clear. Halophytes may be situated on a rock soil, a sand soil, a clay soil, or they may be marsh plants as well.
Lithophilous Halophytes are Samphire, Sea Lavender, Thrift, Sec.
Sea Kale, Saltwort, and other plants grow on sand soil, which is periodically saturated with sea water. Many have bluish-white stems, such as Rushy Wheat Grass, Sea Rocket, Yellow Horned Poppy, Sea Holly.
One may recognize zones which form radical associations from the sea to the shore. They have been called after the chief plants in each zone: 1. Salicornietum, Salicornia herbacea.
2. Atriplicetum, with Atriplex, Suaeda maritima.
3. Cakiletum, with Cakile maritima, Salsola Kali, Arenaria peploides, and Crambe, Convolvulus Soldanella.
4. Triticetum, with Triticum junceum, Elymus arenarius, Ammophila arundinacea, Festuca arenaria, Plantago Coronopus.
These are succeeded inland by a zone of Tamarisk, Hippophae, Sand Sedge, Furze, etc, the first forming Tamarisk bushland in S. Europe.
Amongst clay-loving halophytes we have Zostera marina, which forms a zonal association called Zosleretum, followed by Salicornia above low-water mark.
Then comes Salt meadow land, with Sea Manna Grass, Sea Plantain, Sea Milkwort, Sea Lavender, Scurvy Grass.
The higher littoral meadows farther inland are made up of such plants as Sea Plantain, Sea Milkwort, Thrift, Centaury.
In salt swamps Common Sea Rush and Sea Club Rush are found. Amongst these maritime plants none is more beautiful than the gorgeous Yellow Horned Poppy, whose bluish-white foliage and rich yellow blooms followed by the long seed-vessel are a feature of every beach. Woad on the cliffs at Tewkesbury (much inland) is also found to grow luxuriantly at Wisbech, and having glaucous foliage it has a character in common with other truly maritime plants. Sea Campion with its cream-white flowers is of interest, because it is one of the few Caryophyllaceae found along the coast.
Sea Kale, Sea Rocket, and Sea Holly all have foliage which adapts them to the coastal requirements. Thrift forms beautiful cushions on the rocks in Wales, on the coast as well as inland in the Highlands. Sea Lavender grows on rocks and on mud, forming a pleasing contrast, with its filmy flowerheads, to the more solid panicles of bloom of Thrift and Horned Poppy.
The pink flowers of Tamarisk along the sandhills give one an idea that the plant is an introduction upon our coast, as is usually agreed.
The delicate flowers of Sea Milkwort are very beautiful objects seen with a hand lens. The pink blooms of Centaury are not confined to the sea-coast, for it is also found inland. The Seaside Bindweed is perhaps prettier than our common form inland. Sea Plantain also grows on highland elevations inland. Saltwort is diminutive, interesting from its former use in making barilla. Sea Buckthorn, a feature of the east coast, forms dense bushes which are as spinose as, or more so than, a blackthorn hedge. Common Sea Rush, Sea Club Rush, Sand Sedge are all typical maritime grasslike plants, and Marram Grass, Rushy Wheat Grass, Lyme Grass help materially to keep the coasts intact from the ravages of the sea in many places. Hedgehog Grass, Squirrel-tail Grass, Seaside Manna Grass are typical seaside grasses which grow on sand or clay. Grass Wrack grows in the sea.
Photo. L. R. J. Horn - Vegetation Of The Sea Coast.
There are some 100 littoral plants, about 28 of which we have included. Three at least grow inland, Sea Campion, Sea Plantain, and Thrift. Some twenty more are natives of salt marshes, etc.