Meadow-Grass, or Poa, L. a genus of plants comprising 53 species, 16 of which are natives of Britain : the principal of these are:
1. The aquatica, or Reed Meadow-grass, growing in marshes and on the banks of rivers, flowering in the months of July and August.—This species is uncommonly valuable for being propagated on the banks of rivers or brooks, where it is devoured with great avidity by horses, cows, and sheep : but, as it is apt to How or distend the bowels of cattle, when eaten too largely, or when its panicles are burnt, these circumstances deserve some attention. It abounds particularly in the Isle of Ely, rising to the height of six. feet, though usually mown when about four feet high : after being dried, it is bound up in sheaves, then formed into ricks, in which it undergoes a slight degree of fermentation, to improve its sweetness for provender. In this state, it is pro-vincially called White-lead, from its acquiring a white surface when dry: it is peculiarly useful for rnilch cows but horses do not relish it, When thus prepared.— The reed meadow-grass is one of those vegetables that deserves to be more generally known and cultivated ; as it likewise affords, if properly dried, an excellent substitute for straw, in thatching.
2. The pralensis, or Smooth stalked Meadow-grass, which grows on dry banks, and even on walls : it flowers in the months of May and June. This plant thrives better in dry than in moist situations, whence it retains its verdure during hot and dry seasons, longer than any other vegetable. Its root spreads along the ground almost as rapidly as the couch-grass, and is nearly as difficult to eradicate : it ought, therefore, to be introduced with great caution, where the pasturage is not intended to be permanent. — Though eagerly eaten by cattle, and esteemed to be one of the best grasses for hay, its value decreases, as its quantity every year diminishes in dry soils; and it at length produces very indifferent crops. This diminution is occasioned by its roots matting together, and exhausting the land; which effects, however, may be prevented by manuring the soil, and are not so perceptible on moist grounds, where the plant will flourish, though not so luxuriantly as in dry situations.
3. The annua, Annual Meadow-grass, or Suffolk-grass, which grows on pastures, in paths, gravel-walks, and the borders of fields ; it flowers during the whole summer.—This grass is devoured with avidity by every kind of cattle ; and as it abounds in the county of Suffolk, where the finest salt-butter is prepared, Mr. Stilling-fleet conceives it to be the best grass for milch-cows.
4. The trivial'is, Roughisu Meadow - grass ; Bird-grass ; Fowl-grass; or Fold-meadow-grass. It is perennial, grows in moors, moist pastures, and the sides of hedges ; and flowers from June to September. This plant is reputed to be in every respect the first of British grasses; as the best meadows abound with it, and particularly the celebrated Orcheston Meadow, in the county of Wilts. And though few grasses are more productive, or better calculated for hay or pasturage, than the rough meadow-grass, yet it requires a moist soil, and a situation somewhat sheltered, being liable to be injured by severe cold or excessive drought. It is much relished by every kind of cattle.
5. The compressa, Flat-stalked, or Creeping Meadow-grass: It is perennial ; grows on walls, house-tops, and very dry situations, and flowers from June to August. -This species, in the opinion of Dr. Anderson, is the most valuable of the meadow-grasses. Its leaves are firm and succulent; of a dark Saxon-green colour; and grow so closely together, as to form a pile of the richest pasture-grass. Its flower-stalks continue to vegetate very luxuriantly during the summer; and, even in a fading state, the leaves retain their beautiful green cast. The latter are much larger, and more abundant than those of the roughish meadow-grass. Besides, it produces a fine turf in parks and sheep-waiks, while it renders the flesh of deer and sheep, uncommonly tender and sweet flavoured ; being a favourite food of these animals.
6. The palusiris, or Marsh Meadow-grass, which abounds in marshes and overflowed lands. It grows to the height of four or five feet; is excellently calculated for laying down spongy or fenny grounds ; and is reputed to be equal, if not superior, to any other vegetable tor the purposes of the dairy.—In autumn, however, its leaves become somewhat prickly.
7. The maritima, or Sea-Meadow-grass, which is frequent on the sea coast, and flowers in the months of June and July.—It is one of the principal grasses which grow in salt marshes, and is eagerly eaten by cattle.