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Koeleria pyramidata

June grass, crested hair grass

Koeleria pyramidata (Kiffmann, 1978)


Perennial, forms thin turfs, long rhizomes and intravaginal young shoots that grow individually and have two to three welldeveloped leaves. Base of culms and young shoots not tuberously thickened.

Culms are 40-90 cm high, strong, smooth and glabrous or shortly and densely pilose underneath panicle, two to three-noded, underneath glabrous nodes there is often short hair.

Leaf sheaths of young shoots and cauline leaves grooved, glabrous to densely pilose, basal ones usually shortly pilose.

Ligule 0.5-1 mm long, collar-shaped, apical margin finely dentate.

Leaf blades of young shoots 5-20 cm long, 2-3 mm wide, flat, usually soft, grooved and glabrous or shortly pilose, on margins often 0.5-1.5 mm long, rigid, patulous cilia.

Inflorescence a panicle, 6-12 cm long, contracted and 10-20 mm wide, spread during flowering period, up to 30 mm wide and pyramid-shaped, basally often interrupted, slightly glomerate.

Lateral branches ramifying strongly, villous as the 0.2-1 mm-long rachis.

Two to three-flowered spikelets, 5.5-7 mm long, whitish-green or light brown, shiny.


Very often on oligotrophic grassland and arid pastures as well as meadows, grass heaths and exposed hills, roadsides, in low-density stands of pine and oak forests, edges of forests and scrubs. On moderately arid, poor, usually limy, neutral, humus loess, loam or clay soil, seldom on sand. Indicates moderate aridity and poorness. Disappears with excessive fertilization and irrigation. From lowlands to subalpine zones, in the Alps up to 2 300 m above sea level.

All-purpose species on poor and arid slopes and hillsides up to the subalpine and alpine zones.


Glumes dissimilar, keeled, smooth and glabrous or scabrous; patulous, short cilia on midvein; membranous, broad, finely membranous margins, lower glume one-veined, 4-5 mm long, lanceolate when viewed laterally, pointed, upper glume three-veined, 5-6 mm long, broadly lanceolate, pointed.

Lemma three-veined, 4-6 mm long, lanceolate, acuminate or ending in a short awn tip, glabrous, shortly pilose or seldom ciliated, membranous, with finely membranous margins.

Palea two-veined, 3.5-5.5 mm long, lanceolate, apically notched, with pointed lateral lobes.

Anther 2-2.5 mm long.

Fruit 2.5-3 mm long, glabrous, laterally contracted, outline narrowly elliptic.

Thousand seed weight: 0.4-0.5 g.


(soil and climate)

Crested hair grass has no special soil requirements and is therefore not sensitive to aridity. It prefers an intermediate nutrient supply. The pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5. Moist or waterlogged soil, peat, ground with high weed infestation and light, dry, sandy soil should be avoided. Competition with weeds is low and juvenile development slow. Locations with a high presence of Agropyron repens, Digitaria sanguinalis, Poa annua and Poa trivialis are to be avoided.


Open sowing is possible if carried out early in the year (until the middle of June). A high expenditure for weed control is to be expected.

Because of the plant’s slow juvenile development and low competition, seeding below cover crops should be avoided in autumn.

Spring seeding under summer cereals and linseed is unproblematic. Because of photosensitivity and slow juvenile development it is important to have a thin cover crop population. Seeding should be done immediately after the seeding of the cover crop.

Seed depth: no more than 0.5 cm.

Seed rate: 7-9 kg/ha.

Row spacing: 12-15 cm. Broadcast seeding is possible.


Phosphorus and potassium: moderate fertilization with phosphorus (40-60 kg/ha P2O5) and potassium (80-100 kg/ha K2O) has proved to be worthwhile although crested hair grass has low nutrient requirements. Timely fertilization with liquid or solid manure in late summer or early autumn stimulates the development of single plants until the resting season. Application of liquid manure in spring should be avoided because it may lead to the mobilization of nitrogen in disadvantageous periods of the growing season.

Nitrogen: total requirements for seed development are 60-70 kg/ha. In spring, nitrogen should only be applied as mineral fertilizer. The amount is 30-50 kg/ha, depending on climate and weather.


Because of the plant’s low growth height and the associated danger of being stalled by crop residues, it is important that the stubbles are cut and the straw removed immediately after harvesting the cover crop.

As for most grasses the following guidelines apply. Before sowing only contact herbicides should be used, up to three days before the beginning of sowing. Hormone-type and broad-spectrum herbicides should generally not be used until the species has reached the three leaf stage.

Even with good maintenance after harvesting the cover crop it is not possible to obtain a compact stand until autumn. The low growth height of this species means considerable effort in maintenance and weed control. Selective grass weed control is not feasible. Where weed grasses prevail, a specific application of Ethofumesate will control annual meadow grass in particular. However, an expert should be responsible for evaluation and composition. National guidelines concerning the use of herbicides should be followed.

Selective control with wick and total herbicides (Glyphosate) is possible during most periods of the growing season because of the different growth heights of wavy hair grass and other grasses.


Resistance to lodging: high, in excellently maintained populations intermediate.

Shattering tendency: intermediate.

Ripeness: panicles and culms change colour to light tawny. Seeds adhere well to the panicle after ripeness.

To check ripeness: if a bunch of panicles is grasped, the seeds will fall off easily if ripe.

Flowering single plant

Ripening period: last decade of June to first decade of July.

Harvesting techniques: crested hair grass can easily be threshed from the root. The rotational speed of the threshing drum should be set low to avoid damage or dehusking of seeds. The air supply should be reduced. Seed flow is sufficient; seeds as well as the chaff in the sieve should be checked several times while threshing. Settings of the threshing concave should be close.

Cleaning of seeds is usually unproblematic.

Crop yields: yields can vary greatly (80-150 kg). Very little experience has been gained regarding the propagation of this species. With experience, 150 kg and more can be expected.

For optimally maintained populations three harvesting years are possible.

Propagation stand before harvest

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