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BLUE-JOINT GRASS.   53

tufts. The stems are more or less clustered, the clustering depending on the character of the soil. They are rather firm in texture, from two to five feet high, reddish-brown or bluish-red below. This is why the plant is called Blue-joint Grass. The leaves are numerous, broad, long and very rough. The flowers are in a large panicle, built up after the fashion of that of Red Top, and generally reddish-brown. For this reason Blue-joint Grass is improperly called Red Top in many places in western Canada. Although the panicles are somewhat alike, the differences between the two species are pronounced. The easiest and most accurate way to identify them is to examine the flowers. Blue-joint Grass has only one flower in each spikelet, just as Red Top, but the flower has an awn and is surrounded at its base by a tuft of white, silky hairs, very conspicuous and of about the length of the flower itself. Such hairs are never present at the base of the flower of Red Top.

 

Geographical distribution: Blue-joint Grass is indigenous to Canada and the northern parts of the United States.

 

Habitat: It occurs naturally in moist meadows and marches, along rivers and creeks, at the border of lakes, etc., and generally on bottom lands where the ground is wet.

 

Agricultural value: Sometimes it occupies large areas, to the exclusion of other grasses. Hay from such areas is said to be of excel-lent quality and relished by all kinds of stock. It is also said to be palatable and nutritious a long time after flowering. Although experiments are necessary to confirm this statement, there is no reason to deny it and there is some evidence to support it. Attempts to grow Blue-joint Grass from seed, made at one of the experiment stations of the United States, were unsuccessful, the seeds seeming to lack vitality. This may mean that no seeds, or very few, are developed, as is the case in Reed Grass (Phragmites communis Trin.). Should this be true, it would be easy to understand how the grass keeps its nutritive qualities after flowering. As has been pointed out in the description of Meadow Foxtail, the nutritious constituents are used for the formation of the seed. Should no seed develop, the nutriment remains in the hay, thus making it valuable even after flowering.

As a matter of fact, little is known about the feeding value of Blue-joint Grass. It may be an important addition to Canadian forage plants, but nothing positive can be said at present. It is of special value for very wet soil, as it grows in places too wet for even such moisture-loving plants as Red Top.


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