Botanical description: Rough-stalked Meadow Grass is very like the Kentucky Blue. It is perennial with a short rootstock from which stems and leafy shoots develop. The latter are either upright or creeping. The upright shoots appear in great number at the base of the stems, making the plant more conspicuously tufted than is Kentucky Blue Grass. The creeping shoots arise in the same way but take a horizontal direction. They thus correspond in a way to the runners of Kentucky Blue Grass. The differences, however, are quite material. The Kentucky Blue Grass shoots are underground and scaly while the Rough-stalked Meadow Grass shoots always creep on the surface and carry normally developed green leaves. They root at the joints and their ends finally bend upwards and produce normal leafy shoots, the development of which is quite similar to that of the corresponding shoots of Kentucky Blue Grass. All young shoots of Rough-stalked Meadow Grass are distinctly flattened, whereas those of Kentucky Blue Grass are round. The stems are from one to three feet high, leafy to above the middle, and generally rough immediately below the panicle -hence the name Rough-stalked Meadow Grass. The leaves are numerous, generally dark green, with mostly rough sheaths and long acute ligule. The panicle is similar to that of Kentucky Blue Grass, but is generally more spreading and dark green.
Geographical distribution: Rough-stalked Meadow Grass is indigenous to the temperate regions of the Old World. It was introduced into North America.
Habitat: It grows naturally in rich and wet meadows, along the borders of woods, roads and ditches, and in thickets, gardens and cultivated fields, from sea level to high up in the mountains.
Cultural conditions: Rough-stalked Meadow Grass is especially adapted to low-lying land where the soil is rich and the moisture abundant.
Climate: It cannot stand drought as well as can Kentucky Blue Grass. This is partly due to the creeping shoots being overground and more exposed than are the underground runners of Kentucky Blue Grass. It recovers quickly after drought, however, and can be grown on irrigated land under favourable conditions.
Habits of growth: It is much easier to start than is Kentucky Blue Grass. During the first year the plants produce creeping shoots, which root at the joints and develop into upright branches. The growth being rapid, the ground quickly becomes covered. The second year the plants have reached full development and give the highest yield.
Agricultural value: Rough-stalked Meadow Grass has its highest fodder value when in bloom and should be cut for hay at that stage. On wet land, however, it is advisable to cut it earlier because the stems easily rot at the base. It is a valuable addition to hay mixtures cut once a year. When more than one crop is required, it should be replaced by some other grass as its second growth is insignificant. As a pasture grass it is of considerable value. It makes a vigorous and rapid growth and stands tramping well.
Seed: In central Europe the seed of Rough-stalked Meadow Grass is generally secured from wild plants, in which case it is simply stripped off by hand when ripe. In Denmark the seed is grown for commerce on a comparatively large scale. The same field is harvested from two to four years. Fifteen to twenty pounds of seed per acre are sown as a rule.
Quality of seed: The seeds are provided with cobweb-like hairs similar to those of Kentucky Blue Grass and the seeds are alike in other respects, the only difference being that in the seed of Rough-stalked Meadow Grass the glumes have more prominent nerves.
The seed of Kentucky Blue Grass being much cheaper, it is often used as a substitute for Rough-stalked Meadow Grass. As a matter of fact, pure seed of the latter is difficult to obtain.