Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Annual or Italian Ryegrass: Lolium multiflorum

Weed Description:  A winter annual that may reach 3 ft in height with conspicuous auricles and a distinctive seedhead.   Found throughout the United States, primarily as a weed of small grains.

Stems:  Leaf sheaths are often tinged red at the base.

Leaves:  Rolled in the bud with conspicuous claw-like auricles in the collar region.  Leaf blades are 2 1/2 to 8 inches long, 4-10 mm wide when mature, and have a membranous ligule.  Leaves usually have a glossy appearance on the lower surfaces.
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Roots:   Fibrous.

Flowers:  The seedhead is a spike (4-16 inches long) with spikelets that have long awns arranged alternately up the stem.

Identifying Characteristics: The auricles that occur in the collar regions distinguishes this grass from other similar weeds, as relatively few grass weeds have this feature.   Additionally, the red-tinged base of annual ryegrass helps to distinguish this weed from perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), which is very similar in growth habit and appearance.