genus dactylis


Dactylis glomerata (Cocksfoot or Orchard Grass or Cocksfoot Grass) is a common grass, native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa. It has been introduced into North America. It is widely used for hay and as a forage grass.

It grows to 20–120 centimetres tall, with leaves 20-50 cm long and up to 1.5 cm broad, and a distinctive tufted triangular flowerhead 10-15 cm long. It has a characteristic flattened stem base which distinguishes it from many other grasses.

It is usually treated as the sole species in the genus Dactylis, but is commonly divided into several regional subspecies; some botanists treat some of these as distinct species, or at the lower rank of variety.Subspecies

  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. glomerata
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. himalayensis
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. hispanica (syn. D. hispanica)
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. ibizensis
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. judaica
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. juncinella
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. lobata (syn. D. aschersoniana)
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. lusitanica
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. marina (syn. D. marina)
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. santai
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. smithii
  • Dactylis glomerata subsp. woronowii (syn. D. woronowii)

Cultivation and uses

It is used as a hay grass and for pastures because of its high yields and sugar content, sweeter than most other temperate grasses. It is also extensively naturalised in the United States and Australia; in some areas, it has become an invasive species. In the United States, it is commonly called "Orchard Grass", because it tolerates moderate shade.

It is sold in small containers at a height to about 10-15 cm labelled as "Cat Grass". Many domestic cats, particularly those who live entirely indoors, enjoy eating a small quantity of the grass every day. Cats may pluck the grass from the container themselves or, in some cases, accept cut blades of grass from their owners. A cat will typically consume about five to ten blades of the grass daily.

Cat grass is claimed to supplement the animal's diet with vitamins and minerals. It may also reduce the incidence of problems with hairballs by binding with loose hair in the stomach and causing the cat to expel the accumulated hair by vomiting. The grass is most enjoyed when it is in its early stages of growth. Once the blades of grass mature and become firmer, cats may lose interest in eating it.

Butterfly foodplant

Butterflies whose caterpillars feed on D. glomerata include:



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