National Geographic : 1921 Jun
636 THE NATIONAL GE( It is believed that timothy gets its name front a Maryland planter by the name of Hansen Timothy Hansen-who is supposed to have im ported the grass from England in 1720. KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS (Poa praten sis) [Plate III] Though attaining its most luxuriant growth in the far-famed bluegrass region of Kentucky, whose limestone soils also produce Burley tobacco, fat cattle, and fleet-footed thorough breds, Kentucky bluegrass is by no means limited in its habitat to the State that was once the "Dark and Bloody Ground." Indeed, it is one of the most common of American grasses and claims for its domain almost every limestone area from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The habit of the bluegrass in spreading by sending up a running rootstock renders it an ideal lawn grass, since it so readily forms a fine turf. It blossoms in June, ahead of the sum mer grasses, the flowers occurring in a loose panicle of spikelets, each spikelet possessing three or four flowers. In dry or sandy soil the grass is unprosperous-looking and harsh, but where the limestone pasture-land has sufficient moisture it grows from two to four feet tall and makes that happy time which is known as "knee-deep in June." PURPLE-TOP (Triodia flava) [Plate IV] Purple-top is a perennial, growing from three to five feet in height, with smooth flat leaves. It is found in dry fields from southern New York and Missouri southward. It blooms in August and September, along with the pur ple eragrostis, and towers above its associates, the busy panic grasses and the slender paspa lums. It comes at a time when it can share the sunshine with the pennyroyal and the other mints which are so often found in its neigh borhood. The flowering head of the purple top is somewhat sticky to the touch. YELLOW FOXTAIL (Chaetochloa lutescens) [Plate V] Belonging to the foxtail group, which in cludes the millets, this grass is widely dis tributed. It is very attractive when studied carefully, for the dense, yellowish cylindrical spike is full of florets, each accompanied by a cluster of bristles the coloring of which is delicate and beautiful. The perfect flower is transversely wrinkled and surmounted by beautifully colored stigmas. The millets, cousins of the yellow foxtail, were among the most ancient of cultivated grains. Even the lake dwellings of the Stone Age reveal such quantities of these grains as to lead to the conclusion that they must have yielded the principal bread supply of prehis toric men. RYE-GRASS (Lolium perenne) [Plate VI] Rye-grass is a perennial, growing in fields and lots, and is commonly considered a weed. Its blooming period is in June. Rye-grass is found mostly in the eastern part of the United States and is probably an emigrant from Europe, where it occurs in numerous varieties. GRAPHIC MAGAZINE Rye-grass has the reputation of being prob ably the first of the grasses cultivated as a for age plant, and since the days of Charles II has been held in high esteem in England. In America other grasses have answered so well the needs of the farmers that the rye-grass does not figure in his cropping system. A cousin of Lolium perenne-Lolium temu lentum-is supposed by some to have been the tares among the wheat mentioned in the Gospel according to St. Matthew. In Scotland the seeds of the Lolium temu lentum. commonly called darnel, bear the name of "sleepies," on account of what was sup posed to be the narcotic effect of its seeds. Scientific investigation has revealed the fact, however, that this effect is produced only by those grains which have become diseased through the attack of a fungus. REDTOP (Agrostis palustris) [Plate VIII There are few more interesting grasses than the redtop. It belongs to the bent grasses, which are a group made up of hundreds of species scattered throughout the temperate zones. They monopolize the field and way side in midsummer as thoroughly as the goldenrod rules the landscape of autumn. The redtop clothes the land in iridescent tones of reddish purple. One variety used to be known as "bonnet grass" and is found ex tensively along the reaches of the Connecticut River. It derived its name from the thrifty habits of the New Englanders of yesteryear, who braided the stems into hats. The flowers of the redtop occur in cone shaped panicles, while the glumes are green and whitish with a reddish blush reaching its deepest note in the redtop. The illustration shows an albino form of this species. ORCHARD GRASS (Dactylis glomerata) [Plate VIII] One of the earliest of the grasses that glad den the springtime is the orchard grass. The English call it cocksfoot grass because of a fancied resemblance of the branching panicle to the rooster's foot. This plant is a living example that even among the grasses the prophet usually receives his first recognition abroad; for, although it was brought from England to America, it was never appreciated in the mother country until it acquired its abode here. The orchard grass spreads its flowering panicles to the winds in the days when the odor of new-blown clover sweeps through the land, and with its anthers ranging from purple and yellow to terra-cotta and pink, depending upon the quality of the soil and the quantity of light, it is no mean rival of the clover for recognition. This species ranks high as a farm grass, since it offers the husbandman pasture for his herds in the springtime and is one of the last to retire before the cavalry of Jack Frost, which precedes the infantry and artillery of Winter. The flowers of orchard grass are in their glory in June, the stem growing out of a dense tuft of broad leaves.