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How to Identify Orchard Grass

Orchard Grass, Dactylis glomerata, is a non-native cool season grass that grows in old fields, pastures, and disturbed areas. When identifying this grass, look for the open leaf sheath, as well as the tall membranous ligule. This ligule can range from white to yellow in color and what you'll notice is that the ligule does not stay in one piece, but usually by the time the grass is flowering, the ligule looks like it has been torn into several pieces. The leaves of this grass are keeled, which means it looks like the blade and the sheath were folded in half and retain that crease.

Looking at the inflorescence of Orchard Grass, we have a panicle because we can see branches. This grass flowers in late spring to early summer, and clusters of spikelets can be found at the tips of the branches. Looking closer at the spikelets, we can see that they are two-toned in color, green and purple.

This video is part of the Grasses at a Glance series by Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy Educator Erin Garrett, University of Illinois Extension. Explore the playlist. Read our blog Grasses at a Glance.