Annual ryegrass, also referred to as Italian ryegrass, is a bunch-type grass that can be used as a nurse crop for quick cover or for winter overseeding of bermudagrass on low maintenance athletic fields or golf courses. It does not possess the quality of perennial ryegrass and is not recommended for sites where high quality turf is desired. However, it is very inexpensive and can be used on low profile fields such as school, park or recreation sites where winter color is desirable. Its seedhead can be confused with that of quackgrass. Annual ryegrass does not have rhizomes, whereas quackgrass does. Annual ryegrass can be easily confused with tall fescue. However, tall fescue has rough leaf blade margins on the lower 1/3 - 1/2 of the leaf whereas annual ryegrass has smooth ones. Tall fescue has non-clasping auricles, whereas annual ryegrass has clasping auricles. The backside of the tall fescue leaf blade is less glossy than that of annual ryegrass.
Annual ryegrass is a common weed problem in turfgrasses on roadsides in the southeastern United States. Maintaining a dense, vigorous turf is the first step in effective weed control. Cultural and management practices that enhance turfgrass growth generally reduce weed competition and encroachment. First, select adapted turfgrass cultivars for your area and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth.
a spike, with spikelets along the main stem
leaves rolled in the bud
membranous; blunt, 0.04 - 0.08 inches (1 - 2 mm) long
Growth Season/Life Cycle
cool season turf or winter annual weed
pointed or blunt or claw-like, clasping
Leaf blade tip shape
sharp-pointed; bright green, upper surface dull, deeply ridged, lower surface smooth, glossy and slightly creased, edges smooth
Leaf blade width
0.1 - 0.28 inches (3 - 7 mm) wide
continuous; indistinct, not hairy
split with overlapping margins
round; pinkish at base