Dactylis glomerata

Botanical Name :Dactylis glomerata
Family: Poaceae
Genus: Dactylis
Species: D. glomerata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Poales

Common Names :Cock’s-foot or orchard grass

Habitat :  Dactylis glomerat is native to Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia.

Dactylis glomerata occurs from sea level in the north of its range, to as high as 4,000 m altitude in the south of its range in Pakistan. It is widely used for hay and as a forage grass.

It is a principle species in the UK National Vegetation Classification habitat community the very widespread MG1 (Arrhenatherum elatius grassland), and thus can be found where Arrhenatherum elatius, (also known as False Oat grass), occurs.

It has been introduced into North America, New Zealand and Australia, and is now widely naturalised. In some areas, it has become an invasive species. Other names include cocksfoot, cocksfoot grass, and (in cultivation in the USA) orchard grass.

It can be found in meadows, pasture, roadsides, and rough grassland.

Description:
Dactylis glomerata is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.3 m (1ft).with grey-green leaves 20–50 cm long and up to 1.5 cm broad, and a distinctive tufted triangular flowerhead 10–15 cm long, which may be either green or red- to purple-tinged (usually green in shade, redder in full sun), turning pale grey-brown at seed maturity. The spikelets are 5–9 mm long, typically containing two to five flowers. It has a characteristic flattened stem base which distinguishes it from many other grasses.

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It is hardy to zone 5. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.It is noted for attracting wildlife.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade.It requires moist soil and can tolerate drought.

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Cultivation:   
Succeeds in most good soils and also under the shade of trees. Prefers a light well-drained soil, it does not thrive on heavy or poorly drained soils. Plants tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 31 to 176cm, an annual temperature range of 4.3 to 23.8°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2. The plant is adapted to humid temperate climates. It grows on almost any type of soil, but thrives best on heavier types, such as clays and clay loams. A drought-resistant plant, it will withstand high temperatures. Prefers areas with 480-750 mm annual rainfall, but will produce on rather poor dry soils. Plants are hardy in all parts of Britain, though they are less winter-hardy than Phleum pratense or Bromus inermis and do not extend as far north in Europe. A very variable plant. There are both diploid and triploid forms. Numerous strains have been developed, some coarse and stemmy, others good for hay and early grazing. Local ecotypes in the Mediterranean region are adapted to long hot dry summers. In Europe two types have been developed, one for pasture and one for hay. Pasture types produce more basal leaves and generally are more spreading than the hay types. Selections made in Canada, Sweden and Finland are improved for winter hardiness. Improved strains are more leafy, persistent and later flowering than unimproved commercial types. An important food plant for the caterpillars of several lepidoptera species. The plant is occasionally grown for lawns and is particularly well adapted for growing under shade. However, this species does not make a good lawn grass because it is too coarse.

Propagation:  
Seed – surface sow in a cold frame in the spring and do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination should take place within three weeks. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. There is between 725,000 and 1,450,000 seeds per kilo. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ in the spring. Division in spring. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Medicinal Uses:
Miscellany.

Reported to be oestrogenic. the plant is a folk remedy for treating tumours, kidney and bladder ailments

Other Uses  
Miscellany;  Soil stabilization.

Plants form impenetrably dense clumps and when planted close together in drifts make an excellent ground cover. Having a deep root system, the plant is also useful for checking soil erosion. The plant can be grown for biomass, annual productivity ranges from 2 to 37 tonnes per hectare. If soil fertility is low, a large portion of the total production occurs in the spring, but if the soil is highly fertile, production is well distributed throughout the growing season.

Cock’s-foot is sold in small containers at a height to about 10-15 cm labelled as “cat grass” for indoor cats to eat.

Cock’s-foot is widely used as a hay grass and for pastures because of its high yields and sugar content, sweeter than most other temperate grasses. In dry areas such as much of Australia, Mediterranean subspecies such as subsp. hispanica are preferred for their greater drought tolerance. It requires careful grazing management – if it is undergrazed it becomes course and unpalatable.

 Known Hazards:   This plant is an important cause of hayfever.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dactylis_glomerata
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Dactylis+glomerata
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://www.british-wild-flowers.co.uk/D-Flowers/Dactylis%20glomerata.htm

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