Alopecurus

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Alopecurus

 

a genus of plants of the family Gramineae. They are perennial and, less frequently, annual grasses. The raceme is a tassel; the spikelets have one floret. The fruit is a grain that falls freely with the lemmas. There are approximately 50 species of Alopecurus, which grow in the temperate and cold regions of both hemispheres, as well as in mountainous tropical countries. Twenty-nine species grow throughout the USSR. All species of Alopecurus—except A. dascjanthus, A. textilis, and A. glacialis—are good or satisfactory forage plants. The most valuable and widespread species are meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pra-tensis), which grows in the forest zone of the European USSR, in the Caucasus, and in the mountains of Middle Asia, and A. ventricosus, which is found in the forest-steppe and steppe zones of the European USSR and in Siberia.

Meadow foxtail is a perennial, with many leaves and soft culms measuring up to 120 cm long. The inflorescence is dense; the spikelets are compressed and awned. The root system is not deep, particularly in the first year; therefore, normal development requires loose, fertile, moist soils. Meadow foxtail cannot grow in alkaline soils or in still water. It suffers from drought yet is frost resistant and shade tolerant. The plant grows quickly and blossoms early; it grows back well after mowing or grazing. The plant’s best development is attained in the third season; it can be maintained in fields for ten years and longer.

Meadow foxtail was first cultivated in the mid-18th century in Sweden. Before blossoming it yields hay and grazing feed of high quality. In 100 kg of hay there are 47.7 feed units, 5.1 kg of digestible protein, and 10 g of carotene. The hay and green mass are readily eaten by all types of livestock. The hay harvest on dry fields is 25–30 centners per hectare; and on water meadows, up to 60 centners per hectare. By 1972 the following varieties had been regionalized: Priekul’skii 40, Severodvinskii 146, Serebris-tyi, and Khal’ias.

The species A. ventricosus is a rhizomic perennial, with many leaves. It has an average height of 60–80 cm. It is found, often forming thickets, in water meadows, the shores of lakes, and the edges of marshes and estuaries. A. ventricosus withstands prolonged flooding and tolerates extremely saline soils well. Although it is as nutritious as meadow foxtail, livestock eat it less willingly. The hay harvest ranges from 30–60 centners per hectare (depending on the type of field). In 1972 the variety Donskoi 20 was regionalized.

REFERENCE

Kormovye rasteniia senokosov i pastbishch SSSR, vol. 1. Edited by I. V. Larin. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.

N. S. KONIUSHKOV