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50   FODDER AND PASTURE PLANTS.

RED TOP (Agrostis stolonifera L.). Plate 5; Seed, Plate 26, Fig. 9.

Other Latin name: Agrostis alba L.

Other English names: Fiorin Grass, Creeping Bent-grass, White Bent-grass.

Botanical description: The name Red Top has been used for two species of the genus Agrostis—A. stolonifera L., which is also called A. alba L., and A. vulgaris With. A. stolonifera and A. vulgaris are two distinct species but are often confused. Plants known as Red Top have often been described by American and Canadian writers under the name of A. vulgaris, which is comparatively rare in America and of little agricultural value. As the description in such cases is not of A. vulgaris, but evidently of A. stolonifera, the latter species must be considered the true Red Top. The following description consequently refers to A. stolonifera, which is common all over North America.

There are a great number of widely different varieties of Red Top. It is strongly perennial with a creeping rootstock which generally sends out runners. Although these are sometimes under-ground, as a rule they creep along the surface, rooting at the joints and producing numerous leafy shoots. On account of the creeping character of the rootstock and the runners, Red Top does not grow in tufts but forms a dense, continuous sod. The stems vary in the different varieties. In some they are only a couple of inches high, while in others they reach a height of four feet or more. Only varieties of the latter type are important from an agricultural stand-point. The leaves vary in size, number and colour. Their ligule is always long and generally acute. The flowers are arranged in a panicle with numerous branches. When in bloom the main branches of the panicle as well as the secondary ones are spreading; and as their length gradually decreases towards the top of the panicle, the latter has the shape of a pyramid with a broad base. When flowering is over, the secondary branches lie appressed to the main branches, and the latter, as a rule, to the main stem. After flowering, the panicle is therefore often contracted and narrow. The numerous spikelets are often reddish-brown--hence the name Red Top. Each spikelet contains only one flower. At blossoming time pistils and stamens develop together, and both self- and cross-fertilization are thus possible.

Geographical distribution. Red Top is indigenous to all European countries, northern Africa, northern and central Asia and


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