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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 83. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/28/2009)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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76. Lolium L. (rye grass)

(Terrell, 1968)

Plants annual or perennial (short‑lived), with rhizomes but sometimes with short stolons, forming tufts or small clumps. Flowering stems 30–120 cm long, erect (sometimes spreading at the very base), glabrous or roughened toward the tip. Leaf sheaths open nearly to the base, the ligule relatively short, truncate or broadly rounded. Leaf blades flat, usually with a small pair of short auricles at the base (sometimes worn off or folded inward in older materials), glabrous or more commonly roughened on the upper surface. Inflorescences spikes, the spikelets alternate and not or only slightly overlapping along 2 sides of the somewhat zigzag, persistent axis, positioned with an edge against a shallow depression of the axis, all similar in size and appearance and with fertile florets. Spikelets lanceolate to oblong‑elliptic in outline, flattened, with 4–22 florets. Lower glume absent, except in the terminal spikelet (where similar in shape to the upper glume, but shorter). Upper glume often longer than the lowermost lemmas, shorter than to somewhat longer than the rest of the spikelet, oblong‑lanceolate, pointed or rounded at the tip, awnless, glabrous, strongly 3–11‑nerved. Lemmas pointed or rounded at the tip, sometimes awned (with the awn attached slightly behind the lemma tip), rounded on the back, 3–7‑nerved with the nerves converging (arched inward) toward the tip, glabrous or somewhat roughened. Paleas slightly shorter than to slightly longer than the lemmas, narrowly elliptic. Stamens 3, the anthers yellow. Fruits somewhat flattened, with a narrow groove along 1 side, reddish brown or less commonly light brown or nearly black. Seven to 8 species, native to Europe and Asia, introduced nearly worldwide.

Species of Lolium are superficially similar to those of the Elymus repens complex (tribe Triticeae) in their inflorescence structure, but have the spikelets positioned with an edge toward the inflorescence axis, whereas in the E. repens complex they are positioned with a flat side next to the axis.


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1 Glume as long as or somewhat longer than the rest of the spikelet; lemmas 2.5–3.0(–3.5) times as long as wide, oblong-ovate to oblong-obovate in outline, rounded to bluntly pointed at the tip 4 Lolium temulentum
+ Glume shorter than to about as long as the rest of the spikelet; lemmas mostly 3.5–8.0 times as long as wide, oblong-lanceolate to oblong-oblanceolate in outline, bluntly to sharply pointed at the tip (2)
2 (1) Spikelets with 11–22 florets 1 Lolium perenne
+ Spikelets with 2–10 florets (3)
3 (2) Plants perennial, with sterile offsets produced from short stolons, forming clumps; glumes mostly less than 2/3 as long as the rest of the spikelet, relatively soft 1 Lolium perenne
+ Plants annual, forming individual tufts, lacking stolons or offsets; glumes more than 2/3 as long as the rest of the spikelet, relatively stiff (4)
4 (3) Lemmas with awns 3–15 mm long 2 Lolium persicum
+ Lemmas awnless or with awns 0.5–3.0 mm long 3 Lolium rigidum Gaudin var. rigidum
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