The seeds of this grass closely resemble those of the much more expensive and valuable Meadow Fescue and are sometimes used by unscrupulous dealers in substitution or adulteration. It cannot properly be called a weed, though in this country it often proves unenduring and unprofitable, particularly in dry seasons, on light soils. It is a grass that requires moist ground and a cool, moist climate to thrive well, which is the reason it is so highly esteemed in the northern latitudes such as England and Scotland. Experiments at Woburn demonstrated that its nutritive value is very low and its aftermath the lowest of all cultivated grasses. When allowed to seed it is very exhaustive to the soil. (Fig. 29.)
Culm ten to thirty inches tall, erect and smooth. Sheaths shorter than the internodes; leaves flat and smooth, two to five inches long. Spike terminal, three to eight inches long, the spikelets set with the edge to the rachis, the empty glume at the base slightly shorter than the spikelet, a character which distinguishes it from its annual relative the Poison Darnel, which has the subtending empty glume longer than the spikelet.
Fig. 29. - Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne). X 1/4.
Sow clean seed. Prevent the production of seed by early cutting. Though perennial, it is rather short-lived, and if not allowed to seed, may soon be crowded out of the ground by other and more profitable grasses.