Saturday, 25 June 2011

Helictotrichon pratense Meadow Oat-grass

Grass of the Month for June 2011   

Tall, stiff and upright,  shining in t' sun
Botanist spots it - Oh what fun
On chalk or limestone, to it we'll run
Four awns on t' spikelet, not two or one.

(Can be sung to "Rock a bye Baby", or "I had a little nut tree")

The spikelets are over 1 cm long.
It was formerly called Avenula pratense.

How do you distinguish them from other "Oat-grasses"?


Meadow Oat-grass has 4 flowers (and 4 awns) per spikelet (well, between 3 and 6),
Downy Oat-grass has 2 or 3 awns per spikelet.
False Oat-grass has 1 long awn per spikelet.

When not in flower it is equally easy - the upper surface of the blades are very white and have "Better tramlines than the Poas" - i.e. they have two dark grooves running down at the centre of the blade... I must find some picture to put up.. but it's raining rather to hard outside now to go and get a picture.
.It is an indicator of old grassland and disappears if a field is given lots of fertilizer.

(For links to other grasses through 2010 and 2011 see Grasses Page)

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