Plant Guide > Grasses > Meadow Oat Grass

Meadow Oat Grass


Arrhenatherum elatius (L.) Beauv.

For some long lost reason the unusual name of "Grass of the Andes" was once given to the Meadow Oat-grass which in early spring is often found growing in loose tufts near fields and hedges.

A rapid and rigidly erect growth soon lifts the narrow blossoming-heads of this plant above the leaves of later flowering Fescues and Bent-grasses, and in bloom a rare combination of colouring is shown in the brownish-green spikelets and yellow anthers.

As an important meadow grass this species was introduced from Europe many years ago, yet when one of the earlier American writers on agriculture speaks of Meadow Oat-grass as being cultivated "by a few curious farmers" he leaves the interpretation of the adjective to the prejudices of his readers.

The long, fibrous roots, on which bulbous formations are occasionally developed, give to the plant great drouth-resistant qualities, but, though valued in the South and extreme West,
Meadow Oat-grass has hardly proved itself worthy of extensive cultivation north of Mason and Dixon's line.

Meadow Oat-grass. Arrhenatherum elatius (L.) Beauv.

Perennial.

Stem 2-4 ft. tall, erect. Ligule about 1" long. Leaves 3'-12' long, 1"-4"wide, flat, rough.

Panicle 4'-10' long, narrow, branches short, erect or ascending. Spikelets 2-flowered, 3"-5" long, brownish, lower flower staminate, upper flower perfect. Scales 4; outer scales acute, unequal; flowering scales sparingly hairy, scale of lower flower bearing a bent and twisted dorsal awn about 6" long, scale of upper flower bearing a very short, straight awn between its teeth. Rachilla prolonged. Stamens 3, anthers yellow. The fresh plant has a decidedly bitter taste.

Fields, waysides, and waste places. May to August.

Maine and Ontario to Georgia and Tennessee, also on the Pacific coast.