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Bellardiochloa variegata

Violet meadow grass

Bellardiochloa variegata (Hegi, 1997)


Perennial, blue-green, small, dense thickets, numerous intravaginal young shoots, no stolons or rhizomes.

Culms are 15-20 cm high, erect or geniculate, underneath panicle scabrous, one to two dark nodes.

Leaf sheaths with margins not connate down to the base, lower leaves scabrous, at the base of culms and young shoots clustered, persistent, straw-coloured, tough.

Ligule of young shoots is a 3-mm long, tongue-shaped, torn, pointed membranous fringe.

Leaf blades of fresh plant flat to channelled, approximately 2 mm wide, dry, bristly, 0.5 mm broad, acicular, scabrous, erect, often reaching up as far as the panicle.

Inflorescence a panicle, 4-12 cm long, outline lanceolate, dense, usually contracted, lateral branches ramifying in groups of five to seven, erectly patulous, meandering, scabrous. Three to five flowered spikelets, 4.5-7 mm long, laterally contracted, green, mostly coated purple, rachilla between florets 1 mm long, in upper half with 0.5 mm long stiff hairs.


In arid grasslands on sunny, warm slopes, pioneer plant in crevices, on ledges and cornices. On dry soil that is free of lime, neutral to slightly acidic, nutrient-deficient, stony to rocky soil. Indicates aridity, poorness and light (heliophyte). Preferably in the subalpine, seldom in the alpine zone.

All-purpose grass for all silicious sites or sites deficient in lime, as far as the lower alpine zone. Tolerant of nutrient but not dependent on it, tolerant of cutting to a certain extent, not tolerant to grazing.


Glumes almost similar, three-veined, 3-4.5 mm long, lanceolate, acuminate, keeled, midvein scabrous.

Lemma five-veined, 3.6-4 mm long, slightly keeled, apically acuminate, at least lower ones expiring in 0.3-1 mm long awns. On lower half of keel and marginal veins short hair, florets without woolly hair on base.

Palea two-veined, almost as long as lemma, oblong-lanceolate, apically slightly notched; in-between keels short hair, keels with very short, acute, bristly hair.

Anther 1-1.8 mm long, smooth and glabrous, outline elliptic.

Thousand seed weight: 0.3-0.5 g.


(soil and climate)

Violet meadow grass has no special soil requirements. Moist or waterlogged soil, ground with high weed infestation, peat and light, dry soil should be avoided.

Competition with weeds is low. Locations with a high presence of annual meadow grass (Poa annua) rough meadow grass (Poa trivialis) and, above all, smooth meadow grass (Poa pratensis) should be avoided at all costs. Propagation is possible with a pH between 5.0 and 7.0.


Violet meadow grass needs a fine, crumbly seedbed. Open sowing is possible but risky because of the danger of high weed infestation. For the sufficient development of single plants until autumn, open sowing must be carried out until the middle of June. For open sowing in summer, irrigation must be possible.

Seeding underneath summer barley/durum wheat is common. A thin cover crop population is important. If stands are too dense, the development of single plants is suppressed, which leads to bad tillering in autumn. Furthermore, increased weed competition and a severely decreased crop yield may occur. Good experience has been recorded with linseed as a cover crop. Because of the plant’s slow juvenile development, seeding should be done immediately after seeding the cover crop. Seeds have a good seed flow and are suitable for all common seeding systems. It is important that seeds are applied flat and evenly in a maximum depth of 0.5 cm, and rolled afterwards.

Seed rate: 8-10 kg/ha with an excellent seeding technique, otherwise higher amounts are required to obtain regular stands.

Row spacing: 15-20 cm, depending on the seeder.


Violet meadow grass is fairly undemanding. For satisfactory seed development a good supply of nutrients is necessary.

Phosphorus and potassium: on soil with an intermediate supply of phosphorus and potassium early fertilization with manure in autumn is recommended. For soils with sufficient nutrient content 50-70 kg/ha P2O5 and 80-120 kg/ha K2O are necessary.

Nitrogen: after harvesting the cover crop and cutting the stubbles, an application of 30 kg/ha/N-total is recommended, to achieve optimal development until autumn. Nitrogen necessary for seed development should be applied in autumn or in early spring, for an amount of approximately 70 kg/ha/N-total. Late fertilization in spring mainly stimulates the development of leaves.

Small propagation field


This species grows quite high and forms rather dense, enduring stands after having outgrown the juvenile phase.

Herbicides are well tolerated. Because of low competition, weed control has to start as early as possible to obtain a satisfactory development.

A special problem is weed infestation by other meadow grasses. Selective weed control is only possible for Poa annua (see Poa alpina). Smooth meadow grass in particular can overgrow the entire population within two years and cause problems with yields and quality as a result. The only effective weed control is to use a wick for the control of single plants with total herbicides (Glyphosate).

Sensitivity to rust: quite low. Rust control will only be necessary for a few years.

There should be no cutting between the harvest and autumn in order to minimize the development of weeds. Violet meadow grass is not used as forage.


Resistance to lodging: intermediate.

Shattering tendency: intermediate.

Ripeness: branches of panicle and upper parts of culms change colour to golden yellow. Seeds shatter easily when touched. At the time of ripening the stands should be checked up to twice a day because ripeness is not very compact.

Ripening period: usually shortly after alpine meadow grass in the last decade of June.

Threshing is always done from the root. The cutter bar of the harvester can be set fairly high. Settings for threshing are usually unproblematic. The rotational speed of the threshing drum can vary between 800 and 1 000 rpm with close settings of the threshing concave. The fan should be set very low-usually the wind produced by the threshing drum is sufficient.

Crop yields: crop yields are usually higher in the second harvest year. In existing seed production the average crop yield has been about 200 kg/ha. The yield potential is approximately 400 kg/ha. Maintenance and weed control are crucial for a satisfactory yield level.

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