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Perennial Rye Grass

Lolium perenne

Perennial Rye grass pictured at Cannon Hill Park

How To Spot

Its glossy dark green leaves shimmer as they waft in a breeze. Closer up, their spikey flowers cling close to the stem, barely overlapping. The stem turns a lovely burgundy red colour near the base of the stem.

For those with a keen eye, the leaves clasp around the stem with what look like a pair of hooked claws, known as an auricle.

Where to spot

Widespread across the UK, it’s particularly abundant in parklands, sports fields and freshly laid lawns. It is also the most commercially sown grass on farmland, cut a few times a year to provide winter food for cattle and sheep.

Don’t mistake it with

Couch Grass has spikey flowers that also cling close to the stem, but unlike Rye Grass, these overlap. Its leaves are grey-green and rather rough rather than the smooth feeling, dark and glossy leaves of Rye Grass.

Things you might not know

As Rye Grass grows fast and is eagerly eaten by livestock, it was the first grass in Britain to be sown commercially on farmland, probably more than 400 years ago. Modern varieties are bred to be able to tolerate trampling, mowing and heavy grazing.

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