Alopecurus pratensis L.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Primarily cultivated as a meadow or pasture grass; where adapted it
produces over a long grazing season. Widely used as a hay grass for wetlands
in Europe. Quite palatable as pasture or hay. Plants produce an open turf and
a dense sod in older stands. It is used as a sown grass in southern Canada and
on Pacific Coastal regions of United States, and is included in mixtures to a
limited extent for suitable soils in northern Europe.
No data uncovered.
On a zero moisture basis, meadow foxtail forage (DM content 26.1%)
contains 17.2 g crude protein, 4.6 g fat, 21.5 g crude fiber, 10.7 g ash, and
46.0 g N-free extract. The hay (DM content 85.7 to 88.8%) contains 12.1 to
15.5 crude protein (mean of 2 cases = 13.8), 1.8 to 3.3 g fat (mean of 2 cases
= 2.6), 26.9 to 33.1 g crude fiber (mean of 2 cases = 30.0), 7.0 to 10.1 g ash
(mean of 2 cases = 8.6), and 44.5 to 45.7 g N-free extract (mean of 2 cases =
A long-lived, tufted perennial grass, with short rhizomes and short
ascending stolons, tufts loose or compact; culms erect, 30100 cm tall;
leafblades flat, narrow, 26 mm broad, glaucous, glabrous; ligules membranous,
truncate, 12 mm long; panicles cylindric, 38 cm long, 710 mm broad, very
dense with very short branches; spikelets slightly lustrous 45 mm long, more
or less purplish, soft; glumes membranous, narrowly ovate, 3-veined, obtuse;
lemmas shorter than glumes, narrowly ovate, glabrous, smooth; keel scabrous
above; awn from near base on back, 610 mm long, slender, only very slightly
geniculate; achenes fluffy, light colored, rwith an occasional brown or black
seed; anthers deep yellow, 2.53 mm long. Fl. MayJune. Seeds 1,100,000 to
Reported from the Eurosiberian Center of Diversity, meadow foxtail or
cvs thereof is reported to tolerate frost, heat, low pH, poor soil, salt,
shade, slope, virus, weeds, and waterlogging (Duke, 1978). Many strains have
been developed; some produce a large proportion of leafy growth close to
ground, others are steamy and of less value. 'S-55' is a leafy long-lived
strain selected for grazing in Great Britain. (2n = 28, 42)
Native to temperate northern Europe and northern Asia, south to North
Africa; now widely naturalized in temperate regions throughout the world.
Introduced to North America, now occurring from Newfoundland and Labrador to
Alaska, south to Delaware, Missouri, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Especially
welladapted to Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
Ranging from Boreal Moist to Rain through Warm Temperate Thorn to Dry
Forest Life Zones, meadow foxtail is reported to tolerate annual precipitation
of 3.5 to 17.6 dm (mean of 32 cases = 8.0), annual temperature of 4.4 to
14.8°C (mean of 32 cases = 8.5), and pH of 4.5 to 7.5 (mean of 30 cases =
6.2). Naturally occurs in fields, waste places and grasslands. Adapted to
cool, moist temperate climates, very resistant to cold, but will also withstand
high summer temperatures. Grows best on deep, moist, fertile soils. It will
withstand flooding by fresh or brackish water. Does well under shade, as in
orchards, growing well under irrigation, it is not drought resistant.
Propagated by seed. As pasture, it is often seeded with Big trefoil or
Ladino clover. Seed rate with legumes alone is 1528 kg/ha. However, when
sown in combination with legumes (Lotus corniculatus, L. uliginosus,
Trifolium repens or T. hybridum) and with suitable grasses, as
Festuca pratensis or Phleum pratense sown at rate of 26 kg/ha.
Growth starts early in spring and continues throughout the summer if moisture
is sufficient. It remains green in winter and will continue to make growth,
provided the temperatures are not too low. The fluffy seeds make machine
Hay of good quality may be harvested if cut early. Aftermath growth is
good. Practically all domestic seed is harvested from naturalized stands in
mountainous meadows of Oregon.
In fertilization studies in Canada over four years, yields averaged
1,410 to 6,657 kg/ha attaining as high as 8,298 (van Adrichem, 1974). Crude
protein yields under much the same conditions ranged from 124 kg/ha with 0 kg N
to 939 kg/ha with 224 kg N, attaining as high as 1,123 kg crude protein. This
grass has increased in importance in Canada, Pacific United States, and Japan
since 1940, mainly as a grazing grass.
According to the phytomass files (Duke, 1981b), annual productivity
ranges from 1 to 7 MT/ha. Phytomass such as this is almost equivalent to coal
in energy content.
Following fungi have been reported on Meadow foxtail: Cephalosporium
gramineum, Claviceps microcephala, C. purpurea, Colletotrichum graminicola,
Helminthosporium teres, Mastigosporium album, Pestalozzina soraueriana,
Puccinia coronata avenae, P. coronifera forma alopecuri, P. graminis, P.
perplexans, P. rubigo-vera, Rhynchosporium orthosporum, Rh. secalis,
Sclerospora graminicola, Sclerotinia borealis, Scolecotrichum graminis,
Ustilago alopecuri, U. alopecurivora. Nematodes isolated from this grass
include: Heterodera avenae, H. schachtii, Pratylenchus neglectus, P.
penetrans, Subanguina radicicola, and Tylenchus hordei.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA
Special Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc.
Agron. Madison, WI.
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Van Adrichem, M.C.J. 1974. Performance of meadow foxtail (Alopecurus
pratensis). J. Forage Notes 19(2):5052.
Last update December 22, 1997