|perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne)|
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Ryegrass (Lolium) is a genus of nine species of tufted grasses in the Pooideae subfamily of the Poaceae family. They are characterized by bunch-like growth habits. These plants are native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, but are widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere. Ryegrasses are naturally diploid, with 2n = 14, and are closely related to the fescues (Festuca).
Ryegrass should not be confused with rye, which is a grain crop.
The following are accepted as distinct species:
- Lolium canariense Steud. - Canary Islands ryegrass
- Lolium edwardii H.Scholz, Stierst. & Gaisberg
- Lolium multiflorum Lam. - Italian ryegrass, annual ryegrass
- Lolium perenne L. - perennial ryegrass
- Lolium persicum - Persian ryegrass or Persian darnel
- Lolium remotum Schrank
- Lolium rigidum Gaudin - stiff darnel, Wimmera ryegrass, annual ryegrass
- Lolium temulentum L. - Darnel, poison darnel
- Lolium saxatile
Cultivation and uses
Ryegrasses contain some species which are important grasses for both lawns, and as pasture and for grazing and hay for livestock, being a highly nutritious stock feed. Ryegrasses are also used in soil erosion control programs. It is the principal grazing grass in New Zealand where some 10 million kilograms of certified seed are produced every year. There is a large range of cultivars. The primary species found worldwide and used for both lawns and as a forage crop is perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne). Like many cool-season grasses of the Poaceae, it harbors a symbiotic fungal endophyte, either Epichloë or its close relative Neotyphodium, both of which are members of the fungal family Clavicipitaceae.
Some species, particularly L. temulentum, are weeds which can have a severe impact on the production of wheat and other crops. Ryegrass pollen is also one of the major causes of hay fever. Tennis courts, including those at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the venue for Wimbledon, are sometimes planted in ryegrass mixes, depending on the tournament.
- L. ambiguum = Lolium multiflorum
- L. annuum = Lolium temulentum
- L. arundinaceum = Festuca arundinacea
- L. berteronianum = Lolium temulentum
- L. brasilianum = Lolium perenne
- L. canadense = Lolium perenne
- L. crassiculme = Lolium rigidum
- L. cuneatum = Lolium temulentum
- L. dorei = Lolium persicum
- L. giganteum = Festuca gigantea
- L. gracile = Lolium temulentum
- L. lepturoides = Lolium rigidum subsp. lepturoides
- L. marschallii = Lolium perenne
- L. parabolicae = Lolium rigidum
- L. pratense = Festuca pratensis
- L. remotum = Lolium temulentum subsp. remotum
- L. romanum = Lolium multiflorum
- L. scabrum = Lolium multiflorum
- L. siculum = Lolium multiflorum
- L. subulatum = Lolium rigidum subsp. lepturoides
- L. teres = Lolium rigidum subsp. lepturoides
- L. trabutii = Lolium rigidum
- Schardl CL, Leuchtmann A, Spiering MJ (2004). "Symbioses of grasses with seedborne fungal endophytes". Annu Rev Plant Biol 55: 315–340. doi:10.1146/annurev.arplant.55.031903.141735. PMID 15377223.
- Cheplick GP (2011). "Endosymbiosis and population differentiation in wild and cultivated Lolium perenne (Poaceae)". American Journal of Botany 98 (5): 829–38. doi:10.3732/ajb.1000226. PMID 21613060.