Lolium multiflorum Lam. - Italian ryegrass.

Taxonomic position.

Family Poaceae Barnhart., genus Lolium L.


Lolium italicum A. Braun, L. perenne L. subsp. multiflorum (Lam.) Husnot.

Biology and morphology.

Annual or perennial plant, very robust, rather big, non-pubescent, cespitous. Stems erect, 40-70 cm tall. Blade rolled when young, large (up to 10 mm), 6-25 cm in length, flexible, pale green, shiny on the lower side, less than 16 well marked veins on the upper side. Sheaths of lower leaves are purple-red. Ligule is quite short, membranous. Auricles are long, well-developed. Spike-like inflorescence is 8-15 cm long. Spikelets are 10-12-flowered (up to 20-25) and attached to the axis by one of their sides. One glume per spikelet except on the top spikelet, where there are 2. Glume is shorter than the spikelet. Lemma exceeds the glume in length and is usually aristate. Blossoms in June; seeds ripen in July. It is cross-pollinated by wind. Chromosome number: 2n = 14 (diploid), 2n = 28 (tetraploid).


It is distributed throughout the European part of the former USSR, the Caucasus, the mountains of Central Asia, and the Far East.


Mesophyte, adapted to mild, humid, and temperate climates. It occurs in fields, bushes, woods, along roads, and in populated places. Not resistant to drought, cannot withstand excess moisture, but is able to withstand short-term flooding in spring. It is not very cold-resistant or frost-resistant. Resistant to early fall and late spring frosts. It is less drought resistant than Dactylis glomerata and less cold-resistant than Phleum pratense. Grows best in rather heavy, rich, moist soils, but does well in well-fertilized, lighter soils with sufficient moisture.

Utilization and economic value.

It is an excellent pasture grass. Tolerates heavy grazing but does not persist in meadows cut regularly for hay. Good palatability for cattle, sheep, goats, and horses. It is high-yielding in mixtures with alfalfa, Lotus corniculatus, Trifolium pratense, Trifolium medium and sometimes with grasses. Nutritive value is equal to that of Phleum pratense and Festuca pratense. Used as a lawn culture. It improves soil fertility and structure. It hybridizes with Lolium perenne: L. x hybridum Hausskn. It rarely hybridizes with Festuca pratensis and F. arundinacea x Festulolium. This opportunity for hybridization is used in artificial breeding to get hybrids that are more resistant to drought and more persistent overall.

Reference citations:

Fedorov A.A., ed. 1974. Flora of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka, 404 pp. (In Russian)
Grossheim A.A. 1939. Flora of the Caucasus. Vol. 2. Baku: AzFAN, 587 pp. (In Russian)
Gubanov I.A., Kiseleva K.V., Novikov V.S., Tychomirov V.N. 2002. Illustrated determinant of plants of Middle Russia. Vol. 1. Moscow, 526 pp. (In Russian)
Harkevich S.S., ed. 1985. Vascular Plants of the Soviet Far East. Vol. 1. St. Petersburg: Nauka, 390 p. (In Russian)
Hulten E., Fries M. 1986. Atlas of Northern European Vascular Plants North of the Tropic of Cancer. Vol. 1-3. Konigstein, 1172 p.
Kovalevskaja S.S., ed. 1968. Conspect of Middle Asian Flora. Vol. 1. Taschkent: AN Uzbekistan SSR, 226 pp. (In Russian)
Malyshev L.I., Peshkova G.A., eds. 1990. Flora of Siberia. Vol. 2. Novosibirsk: Nauka, 361 pp. (In Russian)
Rodjevitz P.U., Shishkin V.K., eds. 1937. Flora of the USSR. Vol. 2. Moscow-Leningrad: USSR, 778 pp. (In Russian)
Shelyak-Sosonko Y.P., ed. 1977. Grasses of Ukraine. Kiev: Naukova Dumka, 518 pp.
Shishkin B.K., ed. 1950. Flora of Kirghizia. Vol. 2. Frunze: AN Kirghizia SSR, 315 pp. (In Russian)
Tolmachev A.I., ed. 1974. Flora of the north-eastern European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka, 75 pp. (In Russian)
Tzvelev N.I., ed. 1974. Flora of Northeast of the European part of the USSR. Vol. 1. Leningrad: Nauka, 275 pp. (In Russian)
Tzvelev N.N. 1976. Poaceae USSR. Leningrad: Nauka, 788 pp. (In Russian)

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