Lolium multiflorum

Scientific Name Lolium multiflorum Lam.
Common Names English: Italian ryegrass; German: Italienisches Raygras; French: Ivraie multiflore; Spanish: Pasto inglés, Zacate italiano, Raigras criollo
Description L. multiflorum is a cool-season annual or biannual tuft-forming bunchgrass.


Characteristic Features

It grows a little taller ( 60 to 90 cm; 23.62 - 35.43 inch) than perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and has seeds with awns.

Young Plant

Leaf blades are green to dark green, hairless, flat, the upper surface is evenly ribbed, the lower surface smooth and shiny. Length up to 40 cm (15.74 inch), width 5-12 mm (0.197 - 0.47 inch), young leaves are rolled in the bud.


Erect or patulous, smooth, rough below the spike, 30-100 cm (11.81 - 39.37 inch) high.


The ligule is translucent, shorter than wide, erose.
Auricles are conspicuous claw-like, small and narrow (scalelike).
The ligule is strongly overlapping medium long.
The sheaths are usually tinged red at the base and without hairs.
The leaves usually have a glossy appearance on the lower surfaces.

Propagation Organs


The spikes are 10-40 cm (3.93 - 15.74 inch) in length.
The spikelets edge-on to the rachis. Spikelets with 10 - 20 florets, laterally flattened, green, 8 - 30 mm (0.31 - 1.18 inch) long. Terminal spikelet with 2 more or less equal glumes. Otherwise, only one glume subtending each spikelet.
Awn nearly terminal, fine, straight, about 10 - 15 mm (0.39 - 0.59 inch) long.
Palea similar to lemma in shape and size, 2 nerves with tiny hairs.

Flowering Period

Early summer.


Caryopsis, glume shorter than spikelet.


Germination in autumn and spring.
Seeds with awns.

Viability of Seeds

2-5 years.


By seed.
> 1,000 viable seeds per m² (93/sq. ft.)



Italian ryegrass as a weed is a cool-season annual bunchgrass. It grows as a summer annual in Mediterranean-type climates. This species is also a predominant forage grass in Europe and in the United States.


The grass adapts well to a wide range of different soils, but thrives best on dark rich soils in regions with mild climates. It does not withstand hot, dry weather or severe winters.

Additional Crop Information

L. multiflorum is principally a weed of winter- and spring-sown cereals, and is also common in oilseed rape, flax, vegetable crops and orchards. It has the potential, however, to be a weed of any crop grown within its geographical range.

Agricultural Importance

L. multiflorum is a most important premier grass species on intensive grassland, pasture and meadows and a valuable fodder grass. In arable crops it can be a weed, which is more competitive than annual ryegrass. Biotypes that have acquired multiple resistances to a range of herbicides pose a serious control problem in cereals.


Useful non-chemical contribution to Integrated Weed Management

Intensive grazing of infested pastures, deep soil tillage in arable land (burying of weed seed below 5 cm; 1.968 inch) can greatly reduce the amount of ryegrass germinating with or in the crop. Delayed seeding of the crop often reduces emergence of ryegrass and increases competitiveness of the crop.

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