Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 14.
Other English name: Dog's Tail Grass.
Botanical description: Crested Dog's Tail is perennial with a short rootstock and grows in loose tufts, consisting chiefly of leafy shoots. The stems are very slender, from one to two feet high, and comparatively few in number. The leaves are narrow, those of the stems shorter than those of the basal shoots. They are folded in the bud and are generally slightly concave when fully developed. The flowers are arranged in a panicle of peculiar shape and construction. The branches are very short and turned towards the same side, thus giving the panicle the appearance of a one-sided spike. Each branch carries two spikelets which are extremely unlike. One is composed of three or four normal flowers which have stamens and pistils and consequently are fertile. The other consists of a number of sharp-pointed scales, arranged in two rows, like the teeth of a two-sided comb. This spikelet has neither stamens nor pistils and is consequently sterile. When the panicle is young the fertile spikelets are hidden by the sterile ones and the panicle has a crested appearance. This look and the shape of the panicle have given the plant its name.
Geographical distribution: Crested Dog's Tail is indigenous to almost all parts of Europe and to southwestern Asia. It has been introduced into North America but is found only occasionally in Canada.
Habitat: It grows naturally in meadows, on hills and mountain slopes, along seashores and roadsides, etc.
Cultural conditions: It requires soil of medium quality and is especially adapted to fairly moist low land. It does not thrive in extremely dry localities although its rather deep roots enable it to stand drought.
Habits of growth: It reaches full development the second and third years after sowing. It is medium late in starting and the greatest yield is secured from the second growth.
Agricultural value: On account of its low and somewhat bunchy growth, Crested Dog's Tail may be used as bottom grass with other grasses. It is of special value in pastures. The excellent feeding quality of the pastures of England, Holland and Schleswig-Holstein is claimed to be largely due to this grass. It is commonly used in mixtures for lawn-making.
Seed: Seed of Crested Dog's Tail is generally secured from wild plants. It is yellowish-orange to reddish or greyish brown. In commercial samples different coloured seeds are mixed together, giving a mass effect of yellowish brown. The weight ranges from twenty to thirty-two pounds per bushel.
To the dales resort, where shepherds rich, And fruitful flocks, be everywhere to see.
- Spencer, Shepherd's Calendar, 1579.
In the newly opened spring, when cold moisture descends from the snow-covered hills, and the soil loosens and crumbles beneath the western breeze; then let my steers begin to groan under the entered plough, and the share to glitter, polished by the furrow. That field especially answers the expectations of the greedy farmer which twice hath felt the sun, and twice the cold; the immense harvests of such a field are wont to burst the barns. - Virgil, Georgics, 37 B.C.
Friend, alway let this be a part of thy care. For shift of good pasture, lay pasture to spare. So have you good feeding in bushets and leaze, And quickly safe finding of cattle at ease.
- Thomas Tusser, Five Hundreth Pointes of Husbandrie. 1557.
Creation was not by the Curse made altogether and for ever a Rebel, but In virtue of that charter " In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," it is now by various labours (not certainly by disputations or idle magical ceremonies, but by various labours) at Length and in some measure subdued to the supplying of man with bread; that is, to the uses of human life. - Bacon, Novum Organum. 1620.