Family: Poaceae or Gramineae or Graminaceae
Species: Dactylis glomerata L.
Other common names: Corn on the cob, White ear, Grouped Paleo, Dattolo elbiti.
French: Dactyle aggloméré; English: Cocks foot, Orchard-grass (USA); German: Knaulgrass.
Origin and diffusion
Native to Europe and temperate Asian and African areas, the herb mazzolina is a grass of world importance and certainly among the most interesting for almost all Italian environments.
Dactylis glomerata L - mallet (photo website)
Lively high plant (60-140 cm), with a deep and persistent root system, it is equipped with robust and compact tufts of glaucous green color with erect stems flattened at the base, rough leaves with elongated white ligula and without ears. The inflorescence is a branched heat wave with spikelets that are typically arranged in bunches and have 2-6 flowers. Small seeds (weight of 1000 seeds = 1.1 g) dressed, briefly rested and arched, easy to detach from the spine after maturation.
Environmental needs and cultivation technique
When the plant is a bit slow, it does not immediately form tight buds, but promptly rejects producing leaves in abundance. It has a longevity between 5 and 8 years and a high productivity. Equipped with excellent cold resistance (except at the seedling stage) and moderate resistance to drought and moreover not very sensitive to shading, the mallet grass has a wide adaptability, revealing difficulties only in very acidic soils or in those subject to stagnant water.
Variety and use
The chemical composition of the forage is more satisfactory and the palatability is good, provided that it is used promptly as the quality deterioration after the earing is very rapid. Quite aggressive, it controls well weeds both in pure culture and in combination and lends itself well to oligophyte or polyphite mixtures with alfalfa, violet clover, white clover, sainfoin and on. The earliness range spans over a month.
The great adaptation of the mallet grass is due to the extreme variability of natural forms originating in both Nordic and Mediterranean areas. In southern Europe there is also the species D. hyspanica Roth. small in size and suitable for grazing. The range of varieties available today, of European, American and Australian origin, is very wide: there are about eighty of them in the European Official Register, in the Italian 25. The differences in type of use, earliness and resistance to rust are noteworthy (quite fearsome in this grass). Among the Italian varieties we mention: "Dora", an early high size, with rapid re-growth, from mowing; "Cesarina", intermediate, for grazing. "Jana", "Dama" and "Padania"; among the foreigners: "Curie", Australian of Mediterranean adaptation; “Phillox”, Danish and “Prairial”, French, the latter two with a late cycle.