Alopecurus pratensis Linnaeus
Common names: Meadow Foxtail, Field Meadow Foxtail [En], Vulpin des prés [Fr], Grote vossenstaart [Nl], Wiesen-Fuchsschwanz [De], Αλωπέκουρος ο λειμώνιος [Gr], Çayır tilkikuyruğu [Tu]
Hamoir, LIEGE ● Belgium
Description : It can grow to a height of about 110 cm. The stem is erect or geniculate at the base, the sheathes being smooth and cylindrical. The bulk of the leaves is produced by the basal shoots. They are smooth and leafy to above the middle. The leaves are about 5 mm wide and hairless. They are generally long, broad and soft, the sheaths of the upper ones often being swollen.
Meadow Foxtail has a cylindrical inflorescence, with glumes about 5–10 mm wide and spikelets about 4–6 mm long. It can be easily recognized by its softness, due to the spikelets being covered with long, soft hairs. Each spikelet contains a single flower enclosed within two acutely keeled glumes, which are fastened together at their base. The flower carries an awn at its back, the awns projecting above the top of the spikelets and giving the spike a bristly appearance. The ligule is 1 to 2.5 mm long, with a slightly tattered top.
Biology: It flowers from April until June - one of the earliest grasses to do so. Fertilization being accomplished by means of air currents, there is a chance for self- as well as cross-fertilization. The latter is the more common on account of the arrangement of the stamens and pistil during flowering.
The caterpillars of some Lepidoptera use it as a foodplant, e.g. the Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola). Additionally, male mosquitos can often be found on this flower drinking the nectar.
Habitat : This common plant is found on grasslands, especially on neutral soils. It is found on moist, fertile soils, but avoids waterlogged, light or dry soils. The species forms dense swards leading to low botanical diversity.
Distribution: Native to Europe, northern Africa and central and northern Asia. Naturalised in many areas outside of its native range, including Australia and North America.
Uses: Widely cultivated for pasture and hay.
Wikipedia, Alopecurus pratensis
Clark G.H., Malte M.O., 1913. “Fodder And Pasture Plants”, Canada Department Of Agriculture.