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90   FODDER AND PASTURE PLANTS.

may readily be distinguished from the latter by its long, slender awn. It is also a trifle lighter in colour, and the shiny lustre, characteristic of the seed of Perennial Rye, is much less conspicuous. The weight of the seed varies, sixteen pounds per bushel being the average for good seed; it sometimes rises to twenty-four pounds per bushel.

WESTERN RYE GRASS (Agropyron tenerum Vas.) Plate 15; Seed, Plate 27, Fig. 26.

 

Other English names: Slender Wheat Grass, Bald Wheat Grass.

 

Botanical description: Western Rye Grass is perennial with a very short rootstock not creeping, like that of Couch Grass, which Western Rye in other respects closely resembles. On account of the shortness of the rootstock, the stems and shoots become crowded and the whole plant grows in dense tufts. Western Rye is therefore a bunch grass. Besides a great number of strong roots from the short underground rootstocks, numerous stems and sterile shoots are produced. Both stems and sterile shoots are strictly upright, the former being from two to four feet high, the latter varying with individual plants and in different localities. Western Rye Grass varies in many other respects. Thus the foliage of some individuals is poor and confined almost entirely to the base of the plant, whereas in others it is about as rich as that of ordinary Timothy and distributed along the stems to above the middle. Plants with narrow, dry leaves may be found growing beside individuals with broad and rather soft leaves; and greyish or bluish-green plants occur side by side with bright green ones. The flowers are in a long, spike-like inflorescence which has the flattened spikelets solitary at each joint and thus somewhat resembles that of Perennial and Italian Rye Grass. As the two latter grasses turn the narrow side of the spikelets toward the main stem, whereas the spikelets of Western Rye (like those of all other species of the genus Agropyron) turn their broad side toward the main stem, there is little danger of confusion. Moreover, in the spikelets of a species of Agropyron there are two sterile glumes (see page io); whereas the species of the genus Lolium have only one sterile glume. In Western Rye the two sterile glumes are about as long as the whole spikelet and sometimes enclose it completely. The spikelets are always strongly appressed to the main stem, making the whole inflorescence narrow and slender—hence the name Slender Wheat Grass. At first they are green but toward ripening time


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