Donnerstag, 16. Juni 2011

Plants of the Day (June 16th, 2011) - Alopecurus pratensis L. & Phalaris arundinacea

Now it's time for a double-article, that means, today I will introduce two species in my “Plant of the Day” Article. The reason is simple: this two plants grow so close together, that I've made many pictures where you can see both of them, so it's easier ;)

So, today's “Plants of the Day” are Alopecurus pratensis L. and Phalaris arudinacea L. Both are grasses from the Poaceae family. A. pratensis is called “Meadow Foxtail” in English and “Wiesenfuchsschwanz” in German, while P. arundinacea is known as “Reed canary grass” in English and as “Rohrglanzgras” in German.

 A. pratensis (right) & P. arundinacea (middle)

First, I'll start with A. pratensis. This grass reaches heights until 100 centimetres and has underground stolons. The bald leaves have a rough dorsal site and a shiny ventral side. They are tapering and have a long, deeply divided Ligula.

A. pratensis - habitus

The inflorescence is a raceme. Yeah, I know, that they look like ears, but believe in me, when I say, it's a raceme. A raceme with very short inter-nodes and stalks, of course. Each flower consists of two fused glumes and two lemmas. The lemmas are much shorter then the glumes and have a short awn on their back *)

P. arundinacea reach heights until 200 centimetres. From distance, this grass looks like a reed The leaves are rough, bald and have distinct, white cross-veins. The Ligula is milky-white and a little bit ripped.

P. arundinaceae - habitus (younger plant)

Like A. pratensis, P. arundinaceae has a raceme as inflorescence, which looks like an ear. Each flower has four keeled lammas; the two outer ones are boat-shaped and and very narrow.

Both species are native to Europe and Asia, P. arundinaceae also in North America, and prefer fresh, wet and nutrient-rich places to grow (though both species can also grow on acid soils). So you can find them for example at riversides or alluvial meadows, but also on fields, where they benefit from the high fertilization.

Both types are good crops. A. pratensis is a palatable forage grass, while P. arundinacea has a energy-rich biomass so that it can be processed into pellets.

*) I know, the anatomy of grasses can be a little bit difficult, but this will be the topic of my next “Article of the week”, that I'll post Monday.. So for now don't care about words like “Ligula, awn or lemma).

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