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Medicago sativa L.
Alfalfa has four root type systems: tap root, branch root, rhizomatous root and creeping root. A rhizomatous root system enables the plant to spread from the crown by horizontal stems and develops very broad crowns. Creeping rooted plants develop horizontal rootstalks from the main roots. Shoots arising from the rootstalks are capable of becoming independent plants. Rhizomatous and creeping-rooted plants usually are more persistent and tolerate adverse climatic conditions better than tap and branch-rooted plants. Alfalfa does best on deep loam soils with high lime content. Alfalfa is more adapted to the interior areas of B.C. than coastal areas being that it is not tolerant of soils with high water tables or soil pH below 6.0.


Colonial Bentgrass

Agrostis tenuis Colonial Bentgrass, sometimes referred to as Brown Top, differs from Red Top in that it can have short stolons but no creeping rhizomes, it has bunch type growth habit. Colonial Bentgrass is used in turf applications but not normally in mixes due to its aggressiveness and tendency to become the dominant species. Colonial Bentgrass can be used as a substitute for Creeping Bentgrass on golf greens requiring lower inputs however it does best at slightly higher mowing heights (½" to ¾").

Creeping Bentgrass

Agrostis stolonifera L. Creeping Bentgrass, when maintained properly, forms a smooth dense turf. It is used almost exclusively for golf course greens, tees and fairways in addition to bowling greens and croquet and tennis courts. Its cultural requirements make it impractical for use in home lawns. Creeping bentgrass requires frequent close mowing (¼" or less), regular applications of fungicides for disease control, frequent irrigation and regular topdressing with sand.

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Lotus corniculatus L.
Birdsfoot Trefoil is a long lived perennial legume when planted in areas where it is well adapted. Adequate moisture is a primary limiting factor to adaptation and because Birdsfoot Trefoil takes up to two years to fully establish, competition from aggressive weeds or grasses can impede establishment. Birdsfoot Trefoil can withstand flooding and soils with low fertility, high alkalinity and some salinity and acidity. It is commonly grown for forage production but usually only in areas where Alfalfa will not establish due to poor soil drainage. Birdsfoot Trefoil is also grown for erosion control due to the strong deep tap root system it develops when mature. Because the winter hardiness of Birdsfoot Trefoil can vary from low to high depending on the variety, it is important to choose a winter hardy variety like Leo for planting in Canada. Imported Trefoil, in particular seed from South America, lacks winter hardiness.
Birdsfoot Trefoil

Chewing's Fescue

Festuca rubra commutata
 Chewing's Fescue is a bunchgrass with the highest density of shoots of the three types of red fescue and of the fine fescues it is also the most tolerant of close mowing and traffic pressure. It is quite winter hardy and is also adapted to soils of low fertility making it a good choice for use in a low maintenance lawn application. When Chewing's Fescue was introduced from Europe, it was tried as a forage/pasture grass but didn't show very much merit for that application. Today this species is used almost exclusively in turf applications for shady areas or low to moderate input lawns.

Cicer Milkvetch

Astragalus cicer L.
Cicer Milkvetch has a vigorous, deep root system. This root system may expand its diameter to as much as 120 cm. under favourable conditions. It is a very long-lived perennial and has stems that are hollow and succulent. The growth is upright when the plants are young but stems tend to bend over as additional growth occurs. The flowers are pale yellow to white. Initially, green to red-green pods become black and leathery as the seeds mature. Cicer Milkvetch adapts well to soils with medium to high amounts of moisture. It is very hardy and more tolerant of cold and frost heaving than alfalfa. Once established, it is very aggressive and grows well until the end of the season. Disease problems are uncommon and it is quite tolerant of alkalinity and is moderately tolerant of acidity and salinity. Cicer Milkvetch will not induce bloat in grazing animals.
Cicer Milkvetch

Creeping Red Fescue

Festuca rubra rubra
Creeping Red Fescue is one the three types of red fescue which spreads by strong underground stems and is a hardy, turf-forming grass with a vigorous, fibrous root system. It is used extensively for turf and reclamation throughout Canada. It is also well suited for erosion control on irrigated ditches, highway and railway right-of-ways, as well as for pastures and soil building. Although Creeping Red Fescue does best in high rainfall areas, it can also withstand some drought. It tolerates low fertility soils fairly well, is very tolerant of acidity and somewhat tolerant of salinity
Creeping Red Fescue

Crested Wheatgrass

Agropyron desertorum
Crested Wheatgrass is an extremely long lived bunch type grass with excellent drought resistance. It is well adapted to the Interior Plateau region of British Columbia rarely planted in Coastal areas due to its susceptibility to root rot and intolerance of high moisture. Crested Wheatgrass is particularly adapted to dry conditions. Although it is considered to be invasive by some it is not particularly aggressive. It is however very persistent when planted in areas where it is well adapted remaining productive for decades. The Fairway Type, Agropyron cristatum, has smaller seeds, grows shorter and has finer leaves. It is also more tolerant of moist conditions making it suitable for planting as a lawn in dryer climates. Both types are excellent components for use in erosion control seed mixtures for the B.C. Interior. As a Forage grass Crested Wheatgrass is best suited as a permanent pasture grass. It can be cut for hay however regrowth is very poor and, as with many other grasses, the hay quality will deteriorate after heading.
Crested Wheatgrass

Hard Fescue and Sheep Fescue

Festuca ovina duriuscula Festuca ovina ã
Hard and Sheep fescue are similar fine bladed grass species with the lowest input requirements for turf and reclamation use. Sheep Fescue is the finest bladed of the two. They are non aggressive bunchgrasses that work very well in grass seed blends and are the preferred species for blending with wildflowers. Both species have been bred for turf use producing some excellent varieties with high density and desirable turf colour (green to blue green). Hard and Sheep fescue are less tolerant of traffic in turf applications than other turf grasses making them more useful in home lawns and low maintenance areas as opposed to sport fields. These grasses are excellent components in reclamation mixes. They are adapted to sandy, gravelly soil and have low fertility requirements combined with very good drought tolerance. The fine blades and lower growth habits of these grasses make them undesirable for forage use.
Sheep Fescue

Kentucky Bluegrass

Poa pratensis L.
Kentucky Bluegrass is a long-lived perennial, sod-forming grass used primarily for lawns. Its leaves are soft, green to dark-green creating an attractive sod with good traffic tolerance. It grows best in cool, humid climates however it should only be seeded into warm soil. Late spring and summer plantings are advisable. It prefers open sunlight, but it grows in lightly shaded situations if soil moisture and nutrients are favourable. Although it does go dormant in dry weather, it will survive severe drought and has very good cold tolerance. It does well in irrigated areas, but lacks tolerance to acidity and salinity. Kentucky Bluegrass is slower to establish than most other turf grasses.
Kentucky Bluegrass

Meadow Bromegrass

Bromus biebersteinii
Meadow Brome is adapted to the same areas and conditions as Smooth Brome. Meadow Brome is a long-lived perennial bunchgrass but it will spread somewhat particularly under dryland conditions. It is not nearly as aggressive as Smooth Brome and so works better in mixes. Meadow Brome makes excellent hay and is also a very good pasture grass. Its use in reclamation projects is somewhat limited with preference being given to more aggressive sod forming grasses.
Meadow Bromegrass


Dactylis glomerata L.
Orchardgrass, named so because it is the most shade tolerant forage grass, is a medium to long-lived perennial bunchgrass. It is an excellent grass for hay and silage production with palatable and highly digestible leaves. It is also a preferred pasture grass for the same reason plus re-growth is rapid after grazing. Orchardgrass is grown extensively for forage in the south coastal areas of BC but only winter hardy varieties like KAY can be grown in the central and interior areas of the province. Orchardgrass can only withstand short periods of drought so adaptation is limited to areas of sufficient moisture or under irrigation. Orchardgrass is often used, where adapted, as a component in mixtures for reclamation because of its persistence and deep fibrous root system.

Pubescent Wheatgrass

Agropyron trichophorum
Pubescent Wheatgrass is an introduced long-lived sod forming grass. It has a low tolerance of wet areas and poorly drained soils but is somewhat drought resistant. Pubescent Wheatgrass is very palatable to livestock producing high quality hay and it is also a very good pasture grass. As with other aggressive creeping grasses the stand will become unproductive over time as the sod becomes very dense. For this reason Pubescent Wheatgrass is often included in mixes where erosion control is desired. Pubescent Wheatgrass is closely related to Intermediate Wheatgrass being similarly adapted. Intermediate Wheatgrass is shorter lived and not quite as drought tolerant and winter hardy as Pubescent Wheatgrass.

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense L.
Red Clover is a short lived perennial legume that is very quick to establish. There are two types of Red Clover referred to as 'single cut' and 'double cut'. The single cut varieties are later flowering so in forage applications will only produce one good cut of hay. The double cut varieties are earlier flowering allowing for an earlier cut and potentially a good second cut of hay. Single Cut Red Clover is more winter hardy and persistent than Double Cut Red Clover and so is more commonly used as a component in reclamation mixtures. Red Clover is widely adaptable but best suited to moist soils.
Red Clover

Red Top

Agrostis gigantea
Red Top is an introduced (probably from Europe) bentgrass that is well adapted to the soils and climate of British Columbia. Although Red Top has been cultivated for turf use, it is used primarily for reclamation plantings and is rarely used in forage applications. Red Top is an important grass for riparian seeding due to its ability to withstand wet soil and prolonged flooding. With strong creeping rhizomes, Red Top performs well for soil stabilization on roadsides, ditches and waterways. Having close to 5 million seeds per pound, Red Top is typically included in reclamation mixes at less than 5% by weight.

Reed Canarygrass

Phalaris arundinacea L.
Reed Canarygrass is a long lived very tall and coarse plant. It is a sod former, however it is very slow to establish and is mostly seeded on its own. Once established, Reed Canarygrass is very persistent, particularly in areas of high rainfall where it thrives. Because Reed Canarygrass can tolerate ponding for up to two months and constantly water logged soils, it has become a specialty grass for use in areas of high moisture. In coastal areas, Reed Canarygrass is considered to be quite invasive and is only grown on lands that flood frequently, limiting the use of other more palatable forage plants.



Perennial Ryegrass

Lolium perenne L.
Perennial Ryegrass is a bunch grass with a shallow, fibrous root system. It is popularly used in both forage and turf applications. In forage applications, it is one of the most important pasture grasses, and crosses readily with Annual Ryegrass. It is high yielding, with high quality, and is very persistent if it is well fertilized and well managed. Perennial Ryegrass is best used as a pasture grass or for silage production. Its use for hay is somewhat limited due to its shorter growth habit and it is slow to wilt and dry. Although winter kill can be a problem, it is relatively hard and adapts well to a wide range of soils. Care should be taken to plant only certified endophyte free varieties for pasture use. Endophyte is an internal plant fungus that produces toxic products that can cause reproductive problems in horses and can lower livestock gains. In turf use it is one of the fastest establishing of all turfgrasses, and is great for overseeding. It has a very high wear tolerance, with fast recovery to damage. Perennial Ryegrass is aesthetically pleasing, and can tolerate cooler temperatures. As with forage applications, it is persistent if well managed.

Annual Ryegrass

Lolium multiflorum Lam. Annual ryegrass can also be used for both forage and turf, although there are turf-specific varieties available. Annual Ryegrass is very fast establishing and can start growth very early in the year. It is used often as a temporary ground cover, or in mixes to provide rapid germination for soil stabilization. It makes for an excellent and economical transition grass.

Intermediate Ryegrass

Lolium x hybridum Hausskn. Intermediate Ryegrass is a cross between Annual Ryegrass and Perennial Ryegrass. Some Intermediate Ryegrasses act more like Annual types and others tend to be more like Perennial Ryegrasses, depending on the original genetic parent material. It germinates quicker under cooler temperatures than Perennial Ryegrass, but lasts longer than Annual types. It works excellently in blends with both Perennial and Annual Ryegrass types.


Onobrychis viciaefolia
Sainfoin is a medium-lived introduced legume. It is generally adapted to the same areas as Alfalfa, but is not as productive. Sainfoin however is non-bloating so is sometimes is used as an alternative to Alfalfa for that reason. As a forage legume, Sainfoin is outclassed by Alfalfa, but for reclamation use the species does have some advantages being more drought tolerant and cold tolerant. Sainfoin will be persistent in dryland applications being quite intolerant of flooding and water logged soils.

Smooth Bromegrass

Bromus inermis leysser
Smooth Bromegrass is a long-lived sod forming grass originally introduced from Europe. Smooth Bromegrass is best adapted to the interior regions of BC being able to withstand drought and heat and being that it does not perform well in areas of high rainfall. Smooth Bromegrass is best suited to hay production and is used as a pasture grass. It is commonly used in reclamation projects because its vigorous rhizomatous growth habit will eventually form a dense sod preventing erosion for many years. Because of its aggressive spreading ability and persistence, Smooth Brome is considered to be invasive when planted in areas where the reestablishment of native grasses is desirable.

Streambank Wheatgrass

Agropyron riparium
Streambank Wheatgrass is a native, long lived, sod farming grass. Streambank Wheatgrass plants are short and not especially palatable to livestock so its farm use is limited. It does form a good ground cover and is very drought tolerant so is planted to prevent soil erosion on reclamation sites and along roadsides. As its name implies, Streambank Wheatgrass is used for planting along streams and irrigation ditches being that it can tolerate periodic flooding and the dense sod it produces helps to stabilize the banks.

Tall Fescue

Schedonorus arundinaceus ã
Tall Fescue is one of the most drought, heat and wear tolerant species of grass. It is a deep-rooted, long-lived perennial that will produce very luxuriant growth under fertile and moist conditions. Unlike most other forage grasses an older stand of Tall Fescue is usually as productive a young stand. In forage applications it is one of the best grasses available for poorly drained soils in irrigated pastures, but it thrives in deep moist soils with a neutral pH. Tall Fescue is used especially for grazing, hay and silage producing most of its yield in the spring. In a turf application, Tall Fescue stays green longer in dry summer periods, and its winter hardiness varies on the type. Tall fescue requires time to establish so traffic should be withheld for many months to achieve good wear tolerance. The leaf texture of Tall Fescue is quite coarse compared to other turf grasses. Tall Fescue is best reserved for turf use in areas where drought and heat tolerance are the overriding concerns.

Tall Wheatgrass

Agropyron elongatum
Tall Wheatgrass is a late maturing bunchgrass originally introduced from southern Russia. It isn't drought tolerant but it is tolerant of saline soils and an imperfectly drained alkaline soil so is used for reclaiming sites with these challenges. Tall Wheatgrass is slow to establish and the leaves are coarse so its use for hay and pasture is somewhat limited. It is not usually seeded in mixtures with aggressive grasses because it will not establish with competition from other plants.


Phleum pratense L.
Timothy is a perennial bunchgrass with shallow, fibrous roots extending downward to about 120cm. It is winter hardy, persistent and free from problems caused by pests. It is widely adapted and can be grown successfully under a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. It is very tolerant of acidity, withstands some spring flooding and does well on water-logged soils. It is well suited for use in low lying peaty areas. Timothy also thrives on clay, silt and sandy soils provided moisture is adequate. Seedling vigor is good and stand establishment usually is rapid. It ranks high in productivity among the grasses. Although not commonly used in Canada there is a turf type or small leaved Timothy (Phleum bertolonii) that is planted for lawns in Europe particularly in cold wet areas where plants will be subjected to total submersion in winter.

White Clover

Trifolium repens L.
White Clover has a shallow tap root which may grow to a depth of at least 1m and has very shallow crowns. It produces above ground creeping stems called stolons that root at the node permitting individual plants to spread over a large area. White Clover is a short-to-long lived perennial. The flowers are predominantly white, but are sometimes tinged with pink. Although White Clover is moderately winter hardy, it can persist for long periods through natural reseeding or through the rooting of young stolons. White clover varieties are separated by type according to leaf size. There are three general types of White Clover. The larger leaved taller growing Ladino type is the only white clover suitable for hay production. The intermediate type would include the white clover imported from New Zealand and Australia used for reclamation and pasture. The small leaved "white dutch" clover is better adapted to higher elevations and is more drought resistant. A new Micro Clover has been developed for use in lawns. Its tiny leaves are more inconspicuous in the turf than other white clovers. The nitrogen fixing capability and drought tolerance of the Micro Clover are excellent attributes and when mixed with fine fescue produces a very low maintenance lawn.

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