Dactylis glomerata L.

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Author: Alain Peeters

Common names

Cocksfoot (English), Dactyle vulgaire or dactyle aggloméré (French), Gemeines knauelgras (German).


Perennial plant, robust, hairless, cespitous. Stems erect, 20 - 120 cm high, compressed at the base. Blade folded when young, large (4 - 12 mm), quite stiff, long, with no visible nerve, hulled at the top. Ligule very big, irregular, torn, white. No auricles. Inflorescence in stiff panicle, spreading or dense, erect, with basal branches without spikelets over a long area. Spikelets 3 - 6 flowered, 5 - 6 mm long, in compact clusters. The weight of 1000 seeds is 0.8 to 1.4 g (average seeds). Chromosome number: 2n = 28 (tetraploid). Some mediterranean cocksfoot are diploid: 2n = 14.


Large climate range. Frost and heat resistant. Markedly thermophilous: appreciates well oriented slopes (warm micro-climates). However, tolerates shade very well, for instance in old orchards.


Drought resistant.


Optimum on normally drained to dry soils. Can grow on slopes, on shallow, very dry soils. Dislikes excessive humidity. Wide range for nutrient availability. Can grow on rather poor soils but much more productive on rich soil. Its strong root system can develop over a big volume of soil and thus absorb more nutrients than the other species of the same community. Quite large range for pH. Thrives on slightly acid to alcaline soils. Quite indifferent to soil texture. Very rare or absent from peat soils.


Native to Europe, West Asia and North Africa. Has become subcosmopolitan in temperate regions. From the lowlands to alpine levels in mountain areas.