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.
The Wild Oat is confined to the North Temperate Zone of Europe, N. Africa, Siberia, and N.W. India. It is not known in any early plant beds. In Great Britain the Wild Oat is found in all English counties, except N. Wilts, W. Kent, Monmouth, S. Lines, Mid Lanes, Westmorland, Cumberland; in Wales, in Carmarthen, Cardigan, Carnarvon, Denbigh, Flint, Anglesey; in Scotland (probably introduced), in Ayr, Lanark, Roxburgh, Berwick, Haddington, Edinburgh, Fife, Kincardine, S. Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, Easterness, Orkneys, and as far north as the Shetlands. It is a native of Ireland and the Channel Islands.
Regarded by Watson as a colonist, the Wild Oat is a plant only of the cultivated districts in this country, and is but a wanderer in Scotland. It is found on arable land in cornfields, as well as in all those quarters where corn is liable to be stacked or strewn near buildings, and on waste ground.
The Wild Oat is tall, erect, graceful, with glossy stout stems, and leaves alike both sides, flat, and slightly rough, the sheaths smooth, with a short torn membrane.
The flower-stalk is erect and spreading, with whorls of branches, roughish. The spikelets of 2-3 flowers are green, and drooping ultimately, with glumes 5-veined, the flowers shorter than the glumes, having a ring- of hairs at the base. The awn is twice as long, and brown. The lower palea is divided into two halfway down.
The Wild Oat is 2-3 ft. high. The flowers are in bloom from June to August. It is annual, and propagated by seed.
The floral mechanism closely resembles that of other grass types, but there are 2-3 flowers in each spikelet. There are 3 stamens, short distant styles, and feathery stigmas. The flower is pollinated by the wind.
The fruit is provided with hairs at the top and attached to the glume, which has a twisted bent awn, and may be caught in the wool of sheep or blown away by the wind, and the awn being hygroscopic jerks the seed away.
Photo. H. Irving - Wild Oat (Avenafatua, L.)
The Wild Oat is a sand plant and addicted to sand soil.
Barley leaf stripe, Pyrenophora trichostoma, attacks the Wild Oat.
Two beetles, Lema Cyanella, L. melanopa, and a fly, Oscinus pusilla, infest it.
Arena, Pliny, is the Latin for oat, and the second Latin name means insipid.
The plant is called Wild Aits, Drake, Flaver, Haver, Kentish Longtails, Wild Oat, Poor Oats, Sowlers, Uncorn.
The awn is hygroscopic, and has been used for artificial hygrometers and for fly-fishing.
The seeds lie dormant in the soil for a long time, retaining vitality a long time. The plant is the origin of the cultivated Oat, A. saliva.
Essential Specific Characters: 335. Avena fatua, L. - Stem tall, leaves bright green, spikelets drooping at length, panicle spreading, hairs at base of the flower.