REED CANARY GRASS. 41
REED CANARY GRASS (Phalaris arundinacea L.). Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 4.
Botanical description: Reed Canary Grass is a perennial plant with a vigorous creeping rootstock, from which long, scaly, underground runners are developed. These creep extensively and later send up stout, smooth stems, from two to six feet high. The leaves are broad, almost a foot long and sometimes marked with white stripes. The panicle is large with rather short branches, which are spreading during flowering time but later become erect. The spikelets, which are crowded toward the end of the branches, are narrow, pale green, sometimes slightly tinged with purple. They are generally a little curved and contain only one awnless flower. The panicle resembles that of Orchard Grass, but is readily distinguished by the one-flowered spikelets.
Geographical distribution: Reed Canary Grass is native in almost all Europe and the temperate parts of Asia, Siberia and North America. It is fairly common in Canada, especially in the Prairie Provinces.
Habitat: It grows naturally on low, wet ground, along streams and ditches, and in marshes and sloughs. Although a native of wet ground, it will endure considerable drought. It is little affected by frost.
Agricultural value: This grass becomes rather coarse and stiff with age and should be used for hay or pasture when comparatively young. In many parts of the great plains of the northern United States it forms a large part of the native hay.
Biting cold would never let grass grow.—Shakespeare, 2 Henry I'I., Act 3, Sc. II,, 1592.
What is good tillage? First, to plow thoroughly: second, to plow: third, to manure. The other part of tillage is to have good seed, to sow plentifully, and to take up all the weeds that may grow during the season.—Cato, 95—46 B.C.
If after you have put the seed into the ground, you will await the instant when, while earth is being richly fed from heaven, the fresh green from the hidden seed first springs, and take and turn it back again, this sprouting germ will serve as food for earth: as from manure an inborn strength will presently be added to the soil. But if you suffer earth to feed the seed of corn within it and to bring forth fruit in an endless round, at last it will be hard for the weakened soil to yield large corn crops.—Xenophon, The Economist, 434—355, B.C.