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(ryegrass), a genus of perennial or annual herbs of the family Gramineae. The inflorescence is a two-ranked spike, and the spikelets are multiflorous and laterally compressed, that is, appressed to the spike’s axis on the narrow side. There are approximately 15 species (according to some data, as many as 40), which are distributed primarily in the temperate zone of Eurasia and North Africa.
Nine species are found in the USSR. The English ryegrass (L. perenne) is found in damp meadows, on slopes, and in gardens and parks in the European USSR, the Caucasus, Western Siberia, and Middle Asia. One of the best forage grasses, it is cultivated for pasturage and hay. The English ryegrass withstands trampling and grows quickly after being grazed. For these reasons, it is also used for lawns. Other valuable forage grasses include the Italian ryegrass (L. multiflorum) and L persicum, which are found in the Caucasus, and L. rigidum, which grows in the Caucasus and Middle Asia. The darnel (L. temulentum) is widely distributed in the northern and central regions of the European USSR and in Transcaucasia, southwestern Siberia, and the Far East. It grows as an annual weed among spring grain crops. The darnel and several other species of Lolium are usually toxic to humans and livestock (except swine, ducks, and chickens) because of the development in the caryopses of the fungus Stromantinia temulenta, which produces the alkaloid temulin. When flour containing L. temulentum is used, the product may cause poisoning, manifested by dizziness, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and convulsions. L. remotum, which is distributed throughout the European USSR and the southern Far East, grows as an annual weed among flax plantings. Measures to control the weed species of Lolium include cleaning the seed material and early autumn plowing.
REFERENCESKormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
Kott, S. A. Sornye rasteniia i bor’ba s nimi, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1961.
T. V. EGOROVA