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Italian Rye Grass

Lolium multiflorum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Poaceae (Grass)
Also in this family:
Alpine Catstail, Alpine Foxtail, Alpine Meadow-grass, Annual Beard-grass, Annual Meadow-grass, Arrow Bamboo, Barren Brome Grass, Bearded Couch Grass, Bearded Fescue, Bermuda Grass, Black Bent, Black Grass, Blue Fescue, Blue Moor-grass, Bog Hair-grass, Borrer's Saltmarsh Grass, Bread Wheat, Bristle Bent, Brown Bent, Brown Sedge, Bulbous Foxtail, Bulbous Meadow-grass, California Brome Grass, Canary Grass, Carnation Sedge, Cocksfoot, Cockspur, Common Bent, Common Cord-grass, Common Millet, Common Reed, Common Saltmarsh Grass, Compact Brome Grass, Corn, Couch Grass, Creeping Bent, Creeping Soft-grass, Crested Dog's-tail, Crested Hair-grass, Cultivated Oat, Curved Hard Grass, Cut Grass, Dense Silky Bent, Downy Oat-grass, Drooping Brome Grass, Drooping Tor Grass, Dune Fescue, Early Hair-grass, Early Meadow-grass, Early Sand-grass, False Brome Grass, False Oat-grass, Fern Grass, Fine-leaved Sheep's Fescue, Flattened Meadow-grass, Floating Sweet-grass, Foxtail Barley, French Oat, Giant Fescue, Glaucous Meadow-grass, Great Brome Grass, Greater Quaking Grass, Grey Hair-grass, Hairy Brome Grass, Hairy Finger-grass, Hard Fescue, Hard Grass, Harestail Grass, Heath Grass, Holy Grass, Hybrid Marram Grass, Knotroot Bristlegrass, Lesser Hairy Brome Grass, Lesser Quaking Grass, Loose Silky Bent, Lyme Grass, Marram Grass, Marsh Foxtail, Mat Grass, Mat-grass Fescue, Meadow Barley, Meadow Fescue, Meadow Foxtail, Meadow Oat-grass, Mountain Melick, Narrow-leaved Meadow-grass, Narrow-leaved Small-reed, Neglected Couch Grass, Nit Grass, Orange Foxtail, Pampas Grass, Perennial Rye Grass, Plicate Sweet-grass, Purple Moor-grass, Purple Small-reed, Purple-stem Catstail, Quaking Grass, Ratstail Fescue, Red Fescue, Reed Canary Grass, Reed Sweet-grass, Reflexed Saltmarsh Grass, Rescue Grass, Rough Meadow-grass, Rush-leaved Fescue, Sand Catstail, Sand Couch Grass, Scandinavian Small-reed, Scottish Small-reed, Sea Barley, Sea Couch Grass, Sea Fern Grass, Sheep's Fescue, Silver Hair-grass, Six-rowed Barley, Slender Brome Grass, Small Cord-grass, Small Sweet-grass, Smaller Catstail, Smooth Brome Grass, Smooth Cord-grass, Smooth Finger-grass, Smooth Meadow-grass, Soft Brome Grass, Somerset Hair-grass, Sorghum, Spreading Meadow-grass, Squirreltail Fescue, Stiff Brome Grass, Stiff Saltmarsh Grass, Sweet Vernal Grass, Tall Fescue, Timothy Grass, Tor Grass, Tufted Hair-grass, Two-rowed Barley, Upright Brome Grass, Velvet Bent, Viviparous Fescue, Wall Barley, Wavy Hair-grass, Wavy Meadow-grass, Whorl Grass, Wild Oat, Wood Barley, Wood Fescue, Wood Meadow-grass, Wood Melick, Wood Millet, Yellow Oat-grass, Yorkshire Fog
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, lawns, meadows, roadsides.

Green, no petals
The spike has alternating awned spikelets. Spike are up to 20cm long. Similar looking to Perennial Rye Grass (Lolium perenne) but the spikelets are awned. Wind pollinated.
A dry, one-seeded fruit, ripening in 4 to 5 weeks.
Alternate leaves, up to 20cm long and 8mm wide. The leaves of Perennial Rye Grass are folded in their shoots whereas the leaves of Italian Rye Grass are rolled in their shoots. An annual or biennial grass.
Other Names:
Annual Ryegrass, Australian Ryegrass, Short Rotation Ryegrass, Westerwolds Ryegrass.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lolium multiflorum, commonly known as Italian ryegrass, is a species of grass in the Poaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia but has been widely introduced throughout the world as a forage and turf grass. It is a cool-season, annual or short-lived perennial grass that can grow to a height of 60-90 cm. The leaves are flat and are typically 2-5mm wide and 15-30cm long. The stems terminate in a panicle inflorescence, which is a dense, spike-like cluster of flowers. They bloom during the late spring or early summer. It is highly valued for forage and soil erosion control, it can also be used as a cover crop, for turf, and as a green manure. It is also used for grazing or hay production.


Italian Rye Grass, also known as Lolium multiflorum, is a type of grass native to Europe and widely used for forage and turf purposes worldwide. It belongs to the Poaceae family and is an annual or biennial plant, known for its fast growth and high-quality forage.

Italian Rye Grass has a dense and upright growth habit, reaching a height of 2-3 feet. Its leaves are narrow and flat, measuring 3-10 mm wide and up to 20 cm long. The grass produces dense, spike-like seed heads with numerous small flowers, which usually appear from May to July.

One of the main advantages of Italian Rye Grass is its adaptability to different soil types and climates. It can grow in a range of soils, from sandy to clay, and is relatively tolerant of drought and heat stress. However, it prefers well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.

Italian Rye Grass is widely used as a forage crop, providing high-quality and palatable feed for livestock. It is commonly grown in pastures, hayfields, and silage fields, and is often sown in mixture with other forage species such as clovers and alfalfa. The grass has a high nutritive value, with a protein content of 18-25% and a digestibility rate of 70-80%. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.

In addition to its use as a forage crop, Italian Rye Grass is also popular for turf purposes. Its dense and fine-textured growth habit makes it ideal for lawns, sports fields, and golf courses. The grass is highly tolerant of wear and traffic, and can recover quickly from damage.

However, Italian Rye Grass can be prone to certain diseases and pests, including rust, leaf spot, and aphids. To minimize the risk of damage, it is important to maintain good soil fertility and drainage, and to implement proper cultural practices such as regular mowing and irrigation.

Italian Rye Grass, also known as annual ryegrass, is an important winter forage crop in many areas of the world. It is highly responsive to nitrogen fertilization and can produce yields of up to 10 tons of dry matter per hectare in a single growing season.

One of the advantages of Italian Rye Grass is its ability to establish quickly, often germinating within 7-10 days after planting. This makes it an ideal choice for overseeding warm-season pastures or hayfields in the fall or winter, providing valuable forage during the cooler months when other forage species may not be productive.

Italian Rye Grass can also be used as a cover crop, helping to prevent soil erosion and improve soil health. When grown as a cover crop, it can scavenge excess nutrients from the soil and reduce nutrient leaching, while also providing a source of organic matter to improve soil structure.

Another advantage of Italian Rye Grass is its ability to reduce weed pressure. Its dense growth habit and rapid establishment can help to suppress the growth of weeds, reducing competition for soil nutrients and moisture.

However, Italian Rye Grass does have some limitations. It is not well-suited to dryland farming, as it requires consistent soil moisture for optimal growth. It can also be susceptible to lodging, particularly if grown in soils with high fertility levels.

Italian Rye Grass is a versatile and valuable crop that has a wide range of applications. Whether used for forage or turf, as a cover crop or for weed suppression, its fast growth, high yield, and adaptability make it an attractive choice for farmers, ranchers, and landscapers alike. However, as with any crop, it is important to carefully manage its growth and to take steps to minimize the risk of disease and pest damage.

Italian Rye Grass has been widely used for a long time, and its breeding has led to the development of numerous improved varieties. These improved varieties are often selected for specific traits such as yield, quality, disease resistance, and stress tolerance, and can provide significant benefits over older, unimproved varieties.

For example, some of the newer varieties of Italian Rye Grass have been specifically bred for improved yield and quality. These varieties have higher protein content and digestibility, making them an excellent choice for livestock feed. Other varieties have been developed for improved drought or heat tolerance, making them better adapted to specific environments.

One of the most significant advances in Italian Rye Grass breeding has been the development of tetraploid varieties. Tetraploid Italian Rye Grass has twice the number of chromosomes as diploid varieties, resulting in larger and more vigorous plants. Tetraploid varieties also tend to have a higher yield potential and improved persistence compared to diploid varieties.

Another important aspect of Italian Rye Grass management is grazing management. Proper grazing management is critical to maintaining the health and productivity of the forage stand, as well as maximizing the use of available forage. Overgrazing can lead to reduced yields, soil compaction, and erosion, while undergrazing can result in weed encroachment and reduced forage quality.

In summary, Italian Rye Grass is a versatile and valuable crop that has numerous benefits for forage and turf production. Advances in breeding have led to the development of improved varieties that offer higher yields, better quality, and improved stress tolerance. Proper management practices, including grazing management and disease and pest control, are critical to maximizing the benefits of Italian Rye Grass and maintaining its productivity over time.